Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs speaks about election security on Nov. 3, 2020, as Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf listens. (DHS photo)

CISA Director Krebs Fired for Defending Security of Election, Tweets Trump

Amid reports last week that Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs expected to be fired by an irate president, Krebs kept vociferously defending the 2020 vote as the most secure in American history and swatting down rumors and conspiracy theories about altered or fraudulent votes — mis- and disinformation set straight by CISA’s Rumor Control.

Tonight, President Trump tweeted that he had fired Krebs.

Claiming that a recent statement by Krebs confirming the security of the 2020 vote was “highly inaccurate,” Trump tweeted that “effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

On Nov. 4, Krebs issued a statement assuring Americans that CISA had “no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies.”

“We are only here because of the hard work of state and local election officials and private sector partners who have focused efforts on enhancing the security and resilience of elections. The United States government supported these partners throughout the election, bringing the full range of capabilities to bear in securing systems and pushing back against malicious actors seeking to disrupt our process and interfere in our election,” he said. “CISA will continue to support our state and local partners as they move toward their certification deadlines and the official outcome of the 2020 election.”

“We will remain vigilant for any attempts by foreign actors to target or disrupt the ongoing vote counting and final certification of results. The American people are the last line of defense against foreign influence efforts and we encourage continued patience in the coming days and weeks. Keep calm, continue to look to your state and local election officials for trusted information on election results and visit CISA.gov/rumorcontrol for facts on election security,” Krebs said, adding the hashtag #Protect2020.

The Rumor Control website set up before the election to counter misinformation that spread around the internet and disinformation used as a weapon by malicious actors continued after the election to beat back post-vote rumors, such as “Rumor: Votes are being cast on behalf of dead people and these votes are being counted; Reality: Voter registration list maintenance and other election integrity measures protect against voting illegally on behalf of deceased individuals.”

On Nov. 12, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee, led by CISA Assistant Director Bob Kolasky, issued a statement declaring that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”

“Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result,” the statement continued. “When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised [emphasis added by GCC].”

“Other security measures like pre-election testing, state certification of voting equipment, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) certification of voting equipment help to build additional confidence in the voting systems used in 2020,” the committee continued. “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

That reportedly infuriated Trump, who has not conceded the election to President-elect Biden and has claimed voting irregularities make him the true victor. Krebs continued to counter claims of voter fraud and irregularities through his CISA Twitter account, frequently linking to CISA’s Rumor Control.

Last week Bryan Ware, who was appointed assistant director for cybersecurity at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in January, resigned; he was reportedly forced out by the White House.

After Trump announced Krebs was out, Krebs quickly resurfaced on Twitter with a new account and an inaugural tweet: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow. #Protect2020.” An hour later, he had more than 15,000 retweets and nearly 90,000 likes.

Trump did not state who would be leading CISA. Deputy Director Matthew Travis served under Krebs at the old National Protection and Programs Directorate, which became CISA in November 2018.

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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