United States President Donald Trump has fired the head of federal agency charged with protecting the 2020 US Election from cyberattacks.
In a pair of tweets, Trump accused Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, of issuing a “highly inaccurate” statement when he said the US election was conducted without error.
Krebs ran the agency, known as CISA, from its creation in the wake of Russian interference with the 2016 election through the November election.
He has received praise from Democrats and Republicans for his handling of the election, which generally ran smoothly despite persistent fears that foreign hackers might try to undermine the vote.
In recent days, Krebs has repeatedly pushed back against false claims that the election was tainted. Earlier on Tuesday, he tweeted a report citing 59 election security experts saying there is no credible evidence of computer fraud in the 2020 election outcome.
Trump fired back on Twitter later in the day. He repeated unsubstantiated claims about the vote and wrote: “Effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”
Krebs, from his personal Twitter account, responded: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow.” He closed with the phrase “Protect 2020,” which had been his agency’s slogan ahead of the election.
The dismissal is part of the churn in the administration since the Republican president was defeated by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden in the November 3 election.
Bryan Ware, assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA, handed in his resignation on November 12. Ware did not provide details, but a US official familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency the White House had asked for Ware’s resignation.
Trump, who has yet to concede the to Biden, has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.
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…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2020
The president, who announced troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq today, fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper on November 9 and has installed loyalists in top positions at the Pentagon.
Esper was replaced by Christopher Miller, who had been the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
The Pentagon named Kash Patel, who was the top counterterrorism adviser on the White House National Security Council, as Miller’s chief of staff.
Patel had worked as a top aide to Representative Devin Nunes, the pro-Trump Republican who chaired the House Intelligence Committee and now is its top minority member.
While working for Nunes, Patel helped produce a memo accusing the FBI and Department of Justice of bias against Trump.
The Pentagon’s top policy adviser also resigned. The post was filled by Anthony Tata, a retired Army brigadier general who had previously called former President Barack Obama “a terrorist leader.”
Tata had failed to secure a Senate confirmation hearing in August but has been performing the duties of the deputy under-secretary of defence for policy.