Nov 18, 2020 - Technology

Firing of security official draws bipartisan rebuke

Picture of Christopher Krebs

Christopher Krebs. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Though largely expected since last week, President Trump's firing of top government cybersecurity official Chris Krebs Tuesday evening was widely criticized across the political spectrum and throughout the security community.

Why it matters: Krebs, who was fired by tweet, is the latest in a series of post-election ousters from the outgoing Trump administration. Krebs had drawn Trump's ire for publicly affirming that the 2020 election was fair and free from fraud and foreign interference.

Details: Trump fired Krebs, the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, after Krebs repeatedly vouched for the integrity of the 2020 election — and hours after he retweeted a post from elections expert David Becker encouraging people not to "retweet wild and baseless claims about voting machines, even if they're made by the president."

  • Under Krebs, CISA created a Rumor Control website that featured debunkings of election misinformation, including false claims — like "dead people voted" — that Trump and his allies have embraced.
  • Reuters had previously reported that Krebs expected to be fired, but some had held out hope that strong public support would keep him in the job.

Krebs tweeted after his firing from a personal account: "Honored to serve. We did it right."

Between the lines: Twitter flagged Trump's tweets announcing Krebs' firing for containing disputed claims about election fraud.

What they're saying: A number of Republicans joined a chorus of Democratic officials in criticizing the move.

  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.): "Chris Krebs did a really good job — as state election officials all across the nation will tell you — and he obviously should not be fired."
  • David Becker, director of the Center for Election Innovation: "Krebs can leave public service with his integrity intact, knowing the tremendous positive impact he had on U.S. democracy."
  • Luta Security CEO Katie Moussouris: "This actively makes us more vulnerable to cyber attacks & could not thrill our adversaries more."

What's next: Krebs' deputy Matt Travis would have normally been in line to become acting director, but the Washington Post reported late Tuesday night that he resigned after the White House blocked him from taking the reins. Per Politico's Eric Geller, however, the next official in the line of succession is a career staffer not subject to presidential discretion.

Go deeper