Trump fires agency head who vouched for 2020 vote

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — President Donald Trump yesterday fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election.

Trump fired Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate”.

While abrupt, the dismissal was hardly surprising. Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, had offered a stream of statements and tweets over the past week attesting to the integrity of the election, directly contradicting Trump’s false assertions of widespread fraud without mentioning the president by name.

The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee, comes as Trump is refusing to recognise the victory of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and removing high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal. He fired Defence Secretary Mark Esper on November 9, part of a broader shake-up that put Trump loyalists in senior Pentagon positions.

A former Microsoft executive, Krebs ran the agency, known as CISA, from its creation in the wake of Russian interference with the 2016 election through the November election. He won bipartisan praise as CISA coordinated federal, state, and local efforts to defend electoral systems from foreign or domestic interference.

Krebs has repeatedly pushed back against false claims that the election was tainted. Earlier yesterday, he tweeted out a report citing 59 election security experts saying there is no credible evidence of computer fraud in the 2020 election outcome.

Trump fired back on Twitter later in the day. He repeated unsubstantiated claims about the vote and wrote “effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency”.

Krebs, from his personal Twitter account, responded: “Honoured to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow.” He closed with the phrase “Protect 2020,” which had been his agency’s slogan ahead of the election.

Officials with CISA and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, had no immediate comment.

Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, assailed Trump for “retaliating against Director Krebs and other officials who did their duty. It’s pathetic, but sadly predictable that upholding and protecting our democratic processes would be cause for firing”.

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