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US Election 2020: why has Trump fired Krebs, Homeland Security director?

Cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs was fired by president Donald Trump following continued and unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and hacking.

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US Election 2020: why has Trump fired Krebs, Homeland Security director?
JONATHAN ERNST REUTERS

Christopher Krebs, who led the federal government's election cybersecurity efforts, has been fired by president Donald Trump. Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), had been the target of criticism from Trump ever since the November 3 election, over his agency's Rumor Control blog. CISA has been able to rebut a list of false claims about the election and hacking, many of which Trump and his lawyers have declared real after his election defeat to Joe Biden.

Krebs responds to dismissal

"I'm proud of the work we did at CISA," Krebs told NBC News on Tuesday night in the wake of getting fired. "I'm proud of the teammates I had at CISA. We did it right."

According to a source with knowledge of the firing, Krebs found out about his dismissal via Twitter. Several other sources close to Krebs said in recent days that it was a matter of "when, not if," Krebs would be fired. "He's been on death watch," said a person close to Krebs.

Following the news of his firing, Krebs received a deluge of bipartisan and international support, including acknowledgments of CISA's work in safeguarding the US elections.

"Chris Krebs should be commended for his service in protecting our elections, not fired for telling the truth," said Michael Gwin, a spokesman for President-elect Joe Biden's campaign. "Bipartisan election officials in the administration itself, and around the country, have made clear that Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud are categorically false."

Trump tweeted on Tuesday night that Krebs had put out a statement concerning the election that was "highly inaccurate," apparently a reference to a joint statement last Thursday from CISA, the Election Assistance Commission and groups that represent the chief election officers in every state. The statement read, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

Trump continues to argue that that the election was rigged, despite there being zero evidence and numerous state and federal agencies have said the election was legitimate. Krebs has been one of the most vocal government officials debunking baseless claims about election manipulation.

Krebs' dismissal now leaves the door open for Trump to appoint someone in his place and is also seen as "an opportunity for bad cyber actors to take advantage," said a former official of the Department of Homeland Security.

On the firing line

Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, described Krebs as "a dedicated public servant who has helped build up new cyber capabilities in the face of swiftly-evolving dangers."

"By firing him for doing his job, President Trump is harming all Americans, who rely on CISA's defenses, even if they don't know it," King said. Krebs had been reportedly bracing for his dismissal after the election, because of the nature of his work to communicate the security of US elections.