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Trump Fires Nation’s Top Election Security Director for His Efforts to Debunk Voter Fraud Claims

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  • President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday night that he was firing Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 
  • Both Krebs and the agency have been extremely outspoken in debunking the president’s false claims that the 2020 Election was riddled with voter fraud. 
  • Kreb’s firing received immediate and strong backlash from both Congressional Democrats and Republicans, with one GOP representative likening Trump’s recent firings to a “loyalty purge.”
  • While Krebs would have been replaced by his deputy, Matthew Travis, he was also reportedly pressured to resign Tuesday night. With that, the Trump administration has designated CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales as the agency’s new acting director.

Trump Fires Election Security Director

President Donald Trump fired the nation’s top election security official via Twitter on Tuesday after the official disputed Trump’s false claims about widespread voter fraud.

Christopher Krebs, who had been director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) since 2018, reportedly didn’t learn that he had been fired until he saw the tweet, according to NBC News. 

In the president’s post, he indicated that his decision to fire Krebs, at least in part, was based on a recent statement from Krebs. 

CISA has consistently affirmed that there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in this past election. In fact, under Kreb’s leadership, it even created a “Rumor Control” page that debunked a number of election fraud claims.

Last week, a committee made up of officials from CISA called the 2020 Election “the most secure in election history.” 

There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” those officials said in a statement. 

Krebs again reiterated that message Tuesday morning, saying, “On allegations that election systems were manipulated, 59 election security experts all agree, “in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.” #Protect2020.”

Nonetheless, the president has taken issue with this stance. In fact, he disputed it as “highly inaccurate.”

“There were massive improprieties and fraud…” Trump said, claiming that votes were cast with the names of dead people, that poll watchers weren’t allowed into polling locations, and that “glitches” in voting machines changed Trump votes to votes for now-president-elect Joe Biden. 

The president has provided no evidence to back up his claims.

Still, this didn’t appear to be a massive blindside to Krebs. The same day that CISA statement went out last week, Reuters reported that Krebs expected to be fired by Trump for debunking his election fraud conspiracies.

Lawmakers Criticize Kreb’s Firing and Praise His Work

Last week, an unnamed DHS official told NPR that Kreb’s firing would “rock CISA.”

“Chris has earned the trust of staff all across the agency,” the official said. “He’s easily been the most competent and able of any political appointee I’ve worked with.”

Notably, that mindset seems to be true within Congress, as well. By Tuesday evening, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.) said on Twitter, “Christopher Krebs got fired because he did his job to protect our elections and stood up to Trump’s conspiracy theories.” 

“This is a disgusting abuse of power by a weak and desperate President who undermines our democracy and national security.” 

In a similar statement, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) said, “Instead of rewarding this patriotic service, the President has fired Director Krebs for speaking truth to power & rejecting Trump’s campaign of election falsehoods.”

It’s not just Democrats. Krebs has also been heavily praised by Republicans, and several have criticized the president’s decision to fire him 

“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,” Senator Ben Sasse (R-Ne.) said in a statement.

In an interview with CNN, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.) described Trump’s recent firings as a “loyalty purge” by the White House.

“Chris Krebs said the election is secure… and of course, that is counter to what the president is trying to say,” Kinzinger said. 

One of the reasons why Krebs is so highly respected in Congress is because, in his role, he was intensely non-partisan. On top of that, CISA has been widely credited with helping to ensure that the 2020 election was free of foreign interference. 

“Honored to serve,” Krebs said on Twitter following his ousting. “We did it right. Defend Today, Secure [Tomorrow].”

Multiple CISA Officials Have Been Fired

As far as what happens next within CISA, Kreb’s role would have fallen to his deputy, Matthew Travis; however, Tuesday night, acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf reportedly called Travis and told him that the White House had overruled CISA’s line of succession. Under pressure from the White House, Travis then resigned. 

The Trump administration has now designated CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales as the agency’s new acting director.

It’s not just Krebs and Travis who have been hemorrhaged from CISA. Last week, CISA’s assistant director, Bryan Ware, handed in his resignation. That came reportedly after the White House specifically asked for his resignation. 

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (CBS News) (Politico)

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McConnell Says He Would Block a Biden SCOTUS Nominee in 2024

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The Senate Minority Leader also refused to say whether or not he would block a hypothetical nominee in 2023 if his party overtakes the chamber’s slim majority in the midterm elections.


McConnell Doubles Down 

During an interview with conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threatened to block a hypothetical Supreme Court nominee from President Joe Biden in 2024 if Republicans took control of the Senate.

“I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled,” he said. “So I think it’s highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don’t think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election.” 

McConnell’s remarks do not come as a surprise as they are in line with his past refusal to consider former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court in February 2016 on the grounds that it was too close to the presidential election.

The then-majority leader received a ton of backlash for his efforts, especially after he forced through Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation just eight days before the 2020 election. At the time, McConnell argued the two situations were different because the Senate and the president were from the same party — a claim he reiterated in the interview.

McConnell also implied he may take that stance even further in comments to Hewitt, who asked if he would block the appointment of a Supreme Court justice if a seat were to be vacated at the end of 2023 about 18 months before the next inauguration — a precedent set by the appointment of Anthony Kennedy.

“Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens,” McConnell responded.

McConnell’s Calculus

Many Democrats immediately condemned McConnell’s remarks, including progressive leaders who renewed their calls to expand the court.

“Mitch McConnell is already foreshadowing that he’ll steal a 3rd Supreme Court seat if he gets the chance. He’s done it before, and he’ll do it again. We need to expand the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Ma.).

Some also called on Justice Stephen Breyer, the oldest SCOTUS judge, to retire.

“If Breyer refuses to retire, he’s not making some noble statement about the judiciary. He is saying he wants Mitch McConnell to handpick his replacement,” said Robert Cruickshank, campaign director for Demand Progress.

Others, however, argued that the response McConnell’s remarks elicited was exactly what he was hoping to see and said his timing was calculated.

The minority leader’s comments come as the calls for Breyer to step down have recently grown while the current Supreme Court term draws near, a time when justices often will announce their retirement.

On Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was asked if she thought Breyer should leave the bench while Democrats still controlled the Senate. She responded that she was “inclined to say yes.”

With his latest public statement, McConnell’s aims are twofold here: he hopes to broaden divisions in the Democratic Party between progressives and more traditional liberals, who are more hesitant to rush Breyer to retire or expand the court, while simultaneously working to unite a fractured Republican base and encourage them to turn out in the midterm elections.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (The Hill)

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Gov. Abbott Says Texas Will Build Border Wall With Mexico

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The announcement follows months of growing tension between the Texas governor and President Biden over immigration policies.


Texas Border Wall 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced during a press conference Thursday that the state would build a border wall with Mexico, extending the signature campaign promise of former President Donald Trump.

Abbott provided very few details for the border wall plans, and it is unclear if he has the authority to build it.

While some of the land is state-owned, much of it belongs to the federal government or falls on private property.

Even if the state were able to build on federal ground, private landowners who fought the Trump administration’s attempts to take their land through eminent domain would still remain an obstacle for any renewed efforts.

During his term, Trump built over 450 miles of new wall, but most of it covered areas where deteriorating barriers already existed, and thus had previously been approved for the federal project.

The majority of the construction also took place in Arizona, meaning Abbott would have much ground to cover. It is also unclear how the governor plans to pay for the wall.

Trump had repeatedly said Mexico would fund the wall, but that promise remained unfulfilled, and the president instead redirected billions of taxpayer dollars from Defense Department reserves.

While Abbott did say he would announce more details about the wall next week, his plan was condemned as ill-planned by immigration activists, who also threatened legal challenges.

“There is no substantive plan,” said Edna Yang, the co-executive director of the Texas-based immigration legal aid and advocacy group American Gateways. “It’s not going to make any border community or county safer.”

Ongoing Feud

Abbott’s announcement comes amid escalating tensions between the governor and the administration of President Joe Biden.

Biden issued a proclamation that stopped border wall construction on his first day of office, and has since undone multiple Trump-era immigration policies. Abbott, for his part, has blamed Biden’s rollback of Trump’s rules for the influx of migrants at the border in recent months. 

Two weeks ago, the governor deployed over 1,000 National Guard members and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the border as part of an initiative launched in March to ramp up border security dubbed Operation Lone Star.

Last week, Abbott issued a disaster declaration which, among other measures, directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to strip the state licenses of all shelters that house migrant children and have contracts with the federal government.

The move, which federal officials have already threatened to take legal action against, could effectively force the 52 state-licensed shelters housing around 8,600 children to move the minors elsewhere.

During Thursday’s press conference, Abbott also outlined a variety of other border initiatives, including appropriating $1 billion for border security, creating a task force on border security, and increasing arrests for migrants who enter the country illegally.

“While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows,” he said. “Our efforts will only be effective if we work together to secure the border, make criminal arrests, protect landowners, rid our communities of dangerous drugs and provide Texans with the support they need and deserve.”

See what others are saying: (The Texas Tribune) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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Biden Ends Infrastructure Talks With Republicans

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The president is now looking at other paths forward, including a plan being drafted by a bipartisan group of senators or the possibility of passing his proposal without Republican support.


Biden Looks to Bipartisan Group as Negotiations Collapse

After weeks of negotiations, President Joe Biden ended his efforts to reach an infrastructure deal with a group of Senate Republicans Tuesday.

Hopes for the centerpiece of Biden’s domestic agenda, however, are not dead. Lawmakers have already moved quickly to craft contingencies, outlining three main pathways for the next steps forward.

First, while an agreement between Biden and Republican senators is no longer an option, a joint deal is not off the table. Amid the ongoing negotiations, a bipartisan group of centrist senators have been quietly crafting an alternative plan in case the talks collapsed.

Currently, very few details of that plan are public, but the moderates have made it clear that their biggest division right now is the same sticking point that hung up Biden and the GOP group: how to fund the plan.

Negotiations on that front could prove very difficult, but they could also yield more votes. As a result, Biden indicated this path is his first choice, calling three members of the group Tuesday evening to cheer on their efforts.

Even if the group can come up with a deal that appeases Biden, the possibility still exists that not enough members would embrace it. In addition to funding questions, there are still disputes between Democrats and Republicans in regards to what constitutes “infrastructure.”

The president wants to expand the definition to more broad, economic terms. Republicans, however, have repeatedly rejected that, instead opting for more traditional conceptions of infrastructure.

As a result, while GOP lawmakers are worried that any proposal from the moderates would be too expansive, Democrats are concern that key provisions would be cut.

Other Alternatives

If a joint agreement cannot be reached, Biden’s second option for his infrastructure plan would be to forge ahead to pass a deal with just Democratic support in the Senate through budget reconciliation, the same procedure used to get the stimulus bill through.

Biden, for his part, does appear to at least be considering this option. In addition to calling the bipartisan group moderates Tuesday evening, he also spoke to Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) about drafting a new budget outline Democrats could use for the reconciliation process.

That path, however, also faces hurdles. In order for Democrats to even approve legislation through this process, they need all 50 members to vote in favor — something that is not guaranteed, given that some moderate senators have voiced their opposition to passing bills without bipartisan support.

While Schumer did say that he would still start work on a reconciliation package, he also outlined the third possible option: two separate bills.

“It may well be part of the bill that’ll pass will be bipartisan, and part of it will be through reconciliation,” he said Tuesday. “But we’re not going to sacrifice the bigness and boldness in this bill.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NBC News)

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