Mr Trump ousted Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, on Tuesday in the latest purge of an official who had contravened the president in the wake of his election loss.
“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,” Mr Trump wrote in a tweet that was flagged by Twitter as containing disputed claims.
“Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”
It’s pathetic, but sadly predictable that upholding and protecting our democratic processes would be cause for firing
Adam Schiff, Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee
CISA last week dismissed suggestions that the election had been mired in fraud, without referring directly to the president’s baseless claims.
“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,” the agency said in a statement last week.
The latest administration expulsion comes as Mr Trump continues to refuse to concede the election to Joe Biden while the president’s lawyers argue, without evidence, that voter fraud affected the result in several swing states.
Mr Trump has initiated a late personnel shake-up since losing the election, last week firing Mark Esper, his defence secretary, along with other top Pentagon officials and installing several loyalists. The ousting of Mr Esper was viewed as retribution after the Pentagon chief earlier this year contradicted the president over the use of active military troops to deal with anti-racism protests.
US media has reported that Mr Trump is also gunning for Gina Haspel, CIA director, and Chris Wray, the FBI chief. Before the election, as Mr Trump claimed that mail-in voting was rife with fraud, Mr Wray told lawmakers there was no previous evidence of any such widespread election violations.
Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was appointed by Donald Trump two years ago © Reuters
In a tweet on Tuesday, Mr Trump alleged that Republican poll watchers had been denied access to voting locations on election day. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier ruled that Philadelphia had allowed observers to watch the count, rejecting a lawsuit brought by the Trump campaign.
On the same day last week that CISA contradicted Mr Trump, Mr Krebs retweeted a post on Twitter that urged people not to spread “wild and baseless claims . . . even if they’re made by the president”.
Mr Trump had in turn criticised CISA, which was established under his administration, prompting speculation that he would fire Mr Krebs before leaving office.
Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, rebuked the president over the dismissal of Mr Krebs, who was appointed two years ago as the agency’s first director.
“Instead of rewarding this great service, President Trump is retaliating against director Krebs and other officials who did their duty,” Mr Schiff said. “It’s pathetic, but sadly predictable that upholding and protecting our democratic processes would be cause for firing.”
Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, joined Democrats in criticising the president’s actions.
“Chris Krebs did a really good job — as state election officials all across the nation will tell you — and he obviously should not be fired,” Mr Sasse said.