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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

Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 1 hour ago - World

Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Wang Zhao - Pool/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that a "new cold war" could turn hot, and must be avoided, in a speech on Monday at World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Agenda” conference.

Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

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