President Donald Trump tonight fired the boss of the US government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the very organisation his administration formed with the aim of shoring up America's computer networks from hackers.
Director Christopher Krebs was “terminated” by a presidential tweet, on grounds that he last week co-signed a statement that assessed the 2020 US presidential election as “the most secure in American history.”
The Trump 2020 campaign and the Tweeter-in-Chief both challenge that assessment of election security, and allege widespread voter fraud, but have yet to offer any hard evidence of wrongdoing. Their flawed lawsuits seeking to overturn this year's US elections have largely collapsed, and Democrat Joe Biden is projected to win the White House race.
One such lawsuit, which failed today, is detailed in a judgment [PDF] from Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, rejecting a complaint that election observers were not allowed sufficiently close to votes to verify the fairness of the counting process or validity of the ballots.
Leaders of other agencies that co-signed the aforementioned statement with Krebs on election security appear not to have been dismissed at the time of writing, leaving the singling-out of Krebs an oddity.
However, President Trump is known not to have been thrilled that Krebs directed CISA to create a website called Rumor control that debunked election-related disinformation. The site contradicts some of the baseless allegations that Trump made about election practices.
The Register will not detail those allegations as to do so would be to amplify almost-certainly fantasy assertions: readers can easily find the president’s Twitter account if they wish to go to a primary source of disputed facts.
It is unclear what President Trump hopes to achieve by firing the highly respected Krebs, who is said to have expected his dismissal and took it on the chin with the following tweet:
Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow. #Protect2020— Chris Krebs (@C_C_Krebs) November 18, 2020
Ironically, the creation of CISA was a Trump administration achievement that aimed to increase focus and resources dedicated to the nation's digital defenses. Creating the agency even fulfilled a 2016 campaign promise.
Trump gave his team kudos for succeeding in that aim with another tweet that opened: “The only thing secure about our 2020 Election was that it was virtually impenetrable by foreign powers. On that, the Trump Administration takes great credit.”
The tweet then advanced further conspiracy theories, earning it a label from Twitter saying its content was disputed. The tweets firing Krebs were also labelled as containing disputed claims. Contrast to Krebs's final tweet as CISA director, which is below... ®
ICYMI: On allegations that election systems were manipulated, 59 election security experts all agree, "in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent." #Protect2020 https://t.co/Oj6NciYruD— Chris Krebs #Protect2020 (@CISAKrebs) November 17, 2020