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.

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 Warner (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 Wyden (D-Ore.), another member of the Intelligence panel, also voiced his support for Krebs.

“Under Chris Krebs’ leadership, CISA has been a trusted source of election security information,” Wyden tweeted. “If Donald Trump 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 Rubio (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 Biden was declared the winner of the presidential race.

Trump has also executed a shakeup of top leadership at the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Mark Esper 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 Haspel, the latter of whom received an outpouring of support from Republican senators this week.

Updated: 4:58 p.m.

Tags Christopher Krebs Christopher Wray cybersecurity Donald Trump Election Security Gina Haspel Joe Biden Marco Rubio Mark Esper Mark Warner Ron Wyden
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