Top federal election security official expects to be fired, report says

A closeup of Christopher Krebs in front of a small microphone at a congressional hearing.

CISA Director Christopher Krebs expects to be asked to resign, Reuters reported Wednesday. His agency’s website debunked baseless claims of voter fraud, which reportedly led to problems with the White House.

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This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs expects the White House to fire him, according to a Wednesday report from Reuters. Krebs is in charge of securing the US election system, which is classed as critical infrastructure similar to the nation’s power grid and financial system.

The CISA, a division of the US Department of Homeland Security, has run a website during the 2020 election called Rumor Control, which aims to debunk false claims of election hacking and fraud. According to Reuters, the CISA came into conflict after the White House demanded the agency edit or delete information from the website that debunked false claims of widespread voter fraud perpetrated by Democrats.

The White House and the CISA didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. On Twitter, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner praised Krebs’ work at the CISA. “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,” Warner, a Democrat, said in the tweet.

President Donald Trump and his representatives have made unfounded claims of voter fraud that’ve been refuted as false by election officials, witnesses and members of the news media investigating the claims. Among the broader false claims refuted by the Rumor Control website are rumors that votes from dead people have been counted, or that bad actors can alter vote totals after ballots are counted.

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Cybersecurity experts see false claims that aim to delegitimize elections as one of the biggest threats to election security this year. Krebs warned this summer that baseless rumors questioning the legitimacy of the election would be rampant after votes were cast, asking listeners at a cybersecurity conference to “think before you share.”

Elections security experts also said misinformation about fraud and hacking would likely proliferate after votes were cast, because voters would be left waiting for days while election agencies counted the unprecedented number of absentee ballots requested during the coronavirus pandemic this year.

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