President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired top U.S. cybersecurity official Chris Krebs in a tweet, accusing him without evidence of making a “highly inaccurate” statement affirming the security of the Nov. 3 election.
Trump has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and refused to concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. His campaign has filed a flurry of lawsuits in battleground states, although election officials in both parties have said they see no evidence of serious irregularities.
Reuters reported last week that Krebs, who worked on protecting the election from hackers but drew the ire of the Trump White House over efforts to debunk disinformation, had told associates he expected to be fired.
Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday that Krebs had assured people that the election had been secure when there were “massive improprieties and fraud–including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations,” and voting machine errors that flipped votes from Trump to Biden.
Twitter slapped warning labels on Trump’s tweets, noting: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”
Krebs headed up the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency from its inception two years ago.
He angered the White House over a website run by CISA dubbed “Rumor Control,” which debunks misinformation about the election, according to the three people familiar with the matter.
A CISA representative did not respond to a request for comment.
The Reuters report last week prompted an outpouring of support from security experts across the country, who praised Krebs for his bipartisan work in the past two years
On his own Twitter account, Krebs did not back down, writing: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow.”
Like others who have run afoul of Trump, Krebs learned of his dismissal when he saw the tweet, a person close to him said.