DHS Claims It Has No Records Discussing Chris Krebs Firing with White House
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DHS Claims It Cannot Find Any Records of Communications Between the Agency and WH About Trump’s Firing of Election Security Official Chris Krebs

Chris Krebs

The Department of Homeland Security claims it has absolutely no records of any communications between agency officials and the White House regarding the post-election termination of the Trump Administration’s top election security official, Chris Krebs, according to government watchdog group American Oversight.

The revelation came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by that organization for records spanning the dates Nov. 3 through Nov. 18, 2020. The request sought records related to Krebs’ termination or about the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) website “Rumor Control,” which was created to debunk misinformation about election security.

The inaugural head of DHS’s CISA, Krebs was at the forefront of the federal government’s efforts to minimize risks to U.S. election integrity following documented interference by Russia in 2016. However, despite receiving bipartisan praise for his efforts overseeing the 2020 race, the self-described “lifelong Republican” was fired on Nov. 17 after pushing back against President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud.

In response to a series of Trump tweets declaring that the election was “rigged,” CISA on Nov. 12 released a statement declaring that the Nov. 3 presidential election “was the most secure in American history.”

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the statement said in bold typeface.

Less than one week later, Trump unceremoniously fired Krebs via his since-suspended Twitter account.

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud,” Trump tweeted, along with a series of erroneous claims about “dead people voting,” “poll watchers not allowed into polling locations,” and “glitches in voting machines that changed votes from Trump to Biden.”

“Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency,” Trump said. His next tweet said “DEAD PEOPLE VOTED” in all capital letters.

The termination of an agency-leading official would typically be preceded by some discussion amongst White House officials and DHS, but that was purportedly not the case when it came to ousting Krebs.

American Oversight categorized the move as “part of the campaign of misinformation” by the Trump administration.

“I find it extremely suspicious that a high level firing of the head of the agency’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, via tweet no less, has no records of communication between the White House and agency officials,” wrote Melissa Wasser, policy counsel for the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight (POGO). “This firing looks like a retaliatory action by an outgoing President who wanted to punish Chris Krebs for calling out disinformation and telling the truth: that our election was fair and secure. In normal circumstances, there should be communications between the White House and agency officials.”

“One possible explanation is that there are communications, they just haven’t been cataloged as government records because they were sent through encrypted apps like Signal or on personal email accounts,” Wasser said. “Considering that Krebs had no notice of his firing and found out he was fired on Twitter, I’m sure there is more that we have yet to uncover.”

[image via CBS screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.