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Director of DHS cyber agency expecting ouster

Director of DHS cyber agency expecting ouster
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The top U.S. cybersecurity official, Christopher Krebs, believes he will be fired by the White House, a source involved in cyber policy confirmed to The Hill.

Reuters first reported that Krebs had told associates he expects to be fired, with the outlet citing three unnamed associates.

Krebs has served as the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) since its establishment in 2018, and has been a key leader on issues including election security.

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CISA posted a “rumor control” page ahead of the general election in order to combat misinformation and disinformation, which has spiked following the contentious presidential election. The website has rebutted conspiracy theories about voter fraud that have been promoted by some Trump supporters.

Krebs has tweeted out updates to the page over the past week, reportedly drawing concerns from the White House. 

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHarris shares Thanksgiving recipe: 'During difficult times I have always turned to cooking' Biden leans on foreign policy establishment to build team Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, strongly defended Krebs on Thursday.

“Chris Krebs has done a great job protecting our elections,” Warner tweeted. “He is one of the few people in this Administration respected by everyone on both sides of the aisle. There is no possible justification to remove him from office. None."

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans MORE (D-Ore.), another member of the Intelligence panel, also voiced his support for Krebs.

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“Under Chris Krebs’ leadership, CISA has been a trusted source of election security information,” Wyden tweeted. “If Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE fires him, it will suggest Trump is preparing to spread lies about the election from a government agency."

The White House did not offer comment, and a spokesperson for acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Rubio signals opposition to Biden Cabinet picks Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (R-Fla.) did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Krebs’s potential ouster would leave a tremendous leadership vacuum at DHS and would leave the top government cybersecurity role vacant at a critical moment. 

Should Krebs be forced to step down, his role would likely be filled by CISA Deputy Director Matthew Travis, who has served in the deputy director position since 2018. 

Earlier Thursday, news broke that Bryan Ware, another top official at CISA, planned to step down at the end of the week, with Reuters reporting that he was asked to resign by the White House earlier this week.

CNN reported that Ware and another DHS official, Valerie Boyd, were forced to resign due to pressure from the White House. The developments come in the wake of the election, and after Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE was declared the winner of the presidential race.

Trump has also executed a shakeup of top leadership at the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Brennan takes final shot at Trump: 'I leave his fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, & his legacy to a trash heap' MORE was ousted this week and replaced with a top counterterrorism official, Christopher Miller. Three other officials serving in leadership positions at the Pentagon have also been replaced with individuals loyal to Trump. 

There has also been talk that Trump could move to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray or CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans MORE, the latter of whom received an outpouring of support from Republican senators this week.

Updated: 4:58 p.m.