American Oversight is investigating President Donald Trump’s firing of Chris Krebs, a top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cybersecurity official who challenged the president’s unfounded conspiracy theories about a rigged 2020 election. Krebs led the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) since its inception in 2018, but was ousted by Trump after vouching for the security of the 2020 election amid the White House’s attempts to undermine the legitimacy of its outcome.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election by a substantial margin, Trump has continued to falsely claim victory while making baseless allegations about widespread fraud. And the sequence of events involving Krebs’ firing suggests Trump is using his presidential powers to push that false narrative, even at the expense of the nation’s security.
On Nov. 12, CISA posted a joint statement from election officials and a private-sector partner group which said the 2020 election “was the most secure in American history” and noted there “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” The statement also pushed back against “unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections.”
A few days later, on Nov. 17, Krebs shared a link on his official Twitter account to a similar letter signed by dozens of outside election-security experts. Trump announced Krebs’ firing in a tweet that evening, repeating unsubstantiated claims of “massive improprieties and fraud” and calling Krebs’ statement “highly inaccurate.” Krebs’ deputy at CISA, Matthew Travis, resigned the same night.
Last week, we filed three Freedom of Information Act requests to DHS seeking to shed more light on Krebs’ firing, including to what extent senior agency officials including Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli may have been involved. The requests specifically seek communications of top agency and White House officials related to Krebs’ and Travis’ departures as well as any memoranda written by Krebs or Travis since the election.
“Director Krebs told the American people the truth about our elections and now we are going to ensure the public knows the truth about his unceremonious and corrupt termination,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “President Trump’s election fraud charade is doing lasting damage to our democracy, and those involved need to be held accountable.”
American Oversight’s records requests about Krebs’ removal are part of our investigation into the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election results and its unprecedented attempts to sow doubt about the security of our electoral process and the legitimacy of its results. Such actions, including Krebs’ firing, not only undermine democratic norms, but can harm national security by forcing the departure of dedicated public servants with expertise in key areas like cybersecurity.
Part of Investigation: