(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he had fired a Department of Homeland Security official who has publicly contradicted the president’s unfounded claims about widespread election fraud.
Christopher Krebs, a former Microsoft Corp. executive, was nominated by Trump to a top cybersecurity job in 2018 and became the first director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, later that year. His agency had declared the Nov. 3 election “the most secure in American history.”
In a tweet Tuesday evening, Trump said he was finished with Krebs.
“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud – including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, “glitches” in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting and many more,” Trump tweeted, adding that he was terminating Krebs “effective immediately.”
Even before the election results were known, Trump had cast doubt on the integrity of the vote, and those claims have escalated since Joe Biden was declared the winner by media organizations after securing enough electoral votes.
Trump’s firing of Krebs, which many had expected, including Krebs himself, came after business hours and capped a day of setbacks and controversy in his supporters’ efforts to challenge the election’s results.
In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court rejected his campaign’s key argument that that Republican vote observers were kept too far away to properly monitor ballot-counting, while in Michigan, GOP officials stonewalled the certification of the election outcome in the greater Detroit area before agreeing to certify the results.
Leading up to the election, Krebs used CISA’s website to debunk claims of voter fraud peddled by the president and his supporters.
The CISA site Rumor Control sought to dispel misinformation about the 2020 election and that included a video featuring Krebs. The site challenged allegations that votes had been cast on behalf of dead people and that “secret” watermarks on ballots were helping audit illegal votes. It was still active at the time of Krebs’ termination.
His departure comes as other key officials in his agency, and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, stepped down amid a broader purge by Trump in the wake of the election.
Bryan Ware, assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA, resigned on Nov. 12 after about two years at the agency. In addition, Valerie Boyd, the assistant secretary for international affairs at DHS has also left.
Krebs, who couldn’t be reached for comment, enjoyed bipartisan support for his role in helping run secure U.S. elections in 2018 and this year. Some members of Congress reacted angrily to news that he had been fired.
“By firing Mr. Krebs for simply doing his job, President Trump is inflicting severe damage on all Americans — who rely on CISA’s defenses, even if they don’t know it,” said Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine and co-chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.
Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said Krebs “did a really good job.” “He obviously should not be fired.”
Representative Adam Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, praised Krebs’s efforts to safeguard elections and “inform the American people about what was true and what was not.”
“Instead of rewarding this great service, President Trump is retaliating against Director Krebs and other officials who did their duty. It’s pathetic.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing in 2018, Krebs said one of his top priorities was “enhancing the resilience of our nation’s election systems.”
As speculation mounted that he could lose his job, Krebs didn’t back off. In a tweet from his personal account after he was fired, he said, “We did it right.”
(Updates with additional reaction to Krebs’s firing; a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Krebs appeared in videos on the Rumor Control website. It was only one video.)
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