- 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- While Krebs would have been replaced by his deputy, Matthew Travis, he was also reportedly pressured to resign Tuesday night.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.
Supreme Court Allows Release of Jan. 6 Documents in Major Loss for Trump
The high court’s decision initiates the release of White House documents that the former president had attempted to block the Jan. 6 investigation committee from viewing.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s efforts to block the White House from handing over records to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Trump filed a lawsuit against the panel and the National Archives to prevent the committee from seeing key documents, testimonies, and other evidence lawmakers had requested.
In the suit, he argued that the records were protected by executive privilege, which he said still applied to him even though he’s not president anymore, and despite the fact that President Joe Biden decided not to exercise his executive privilege over the documents.
Trump also claimed that the information has “no reasonable connection to the events of that day” or “any conceivable legislative purpose.”
In an 8-1 decision with Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting, the Supreme Court rejected the effort to block the records from the committee until the issue is resolved by the courts — a process that could take months if not years.
In their ruling, the justices wrote that there are “serious and substantial concerns” regarding whether a former president can obtain a court order to prevent the disclosure of records, especially when the incumbent president waived their right to exercise executive privilege over said documents.
However, they still agreed with the determination by an appeals court that Trump’s claim of privilege over the documents would fail “even if he were the incumbent.”
Records Handed Over to Committee
According to reports, within just hours of the ruling, the National Archives began sending the roughly 800 pages of documents to the Jan. 6 committee.
The documents have not been made public, and it remains unclear if and when they will be.
What is known is the nature of the content that the committee has requested, including records detailing all of Trump’s movements and meetings on Jan. 6.
Notably, the lawmakers also requested information about plans by the administration to undermine Congress’s confirmation of the electoral college vote and Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the results of the elections.
Also unknown is what the panel will do with the documents if it finds damning evidence. While the committee’s powers are limited in scope, it could make a criminal referral to the Justice Department, which has its own ongoing probe into the insurrection and the events that preceded it.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Associated Press) (The Washington Post)
NY Attorney General Says Investigation of Trump Business Found “Significant Evidence” of Fraud
The state attorney general’s office accused the former president and his family business of falsely inflating the value of assets and personal worth to lenders, the IRS, and insurance brokers.
New York Attorney General’s Filing
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced late Tuesday she had “significant evidence” that former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization “falsely and fraudulently” misrepresented the value of assets “to financial institutions for economic benefit.”
The allegations mark the first time James has made specific accusations against Trump and his business. They come as part of a nearly 160-page filing asking a judge to order the former president — along with Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. — to comply with subpoenas for the investigation after the family sued James to block her from questioning them.
The filing claims that Trump and the company inflated the value of six properties, including several golf courses and Trump’s own penthouse in Trump Tower, on financial statements to obtain favorable loans, tax deductions, and insurance coverage.
The document adds that many of the financial statements were “generally inflated as part of a pattern to suggest that Mr. Trump’s net worth was higher than it otherwise would have appeared.”
James outlined several specific examples, such as a financial statement where the value of Trump’s Seven Springs estate in Westchester was boosted because it listed seven mansions on the property worth $61 million that did not actually exist.
That resulted in Trump receiving millions of dollars in tax deductions on that property, as well as another in Los Angeles.
In another notable instance, the attorney general’s office said that the $327 million value of Trump’s penthouse in Trump Tower was calculated off a financial statement that falsely reported his home was nearly triple its actual size.
While the statement claimed the apartment was 30,000 square feet, Trump had signed documents stating it was actually 10,996 square feet.
Alleged Direct Involvement
The allegation regarding the apartment is especially significant because it directly ties Trump himself to the accusations of financial wrongdoing. It is also not the only instance where Trump was implicated.
The filing additionally asserts that Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg — who was indicted last summer on multiple criminal charges relating to the business’ tax dealings — implied the former president was involved in finalizing the false valuations.
According to the documents, Weisselberg “testified that it was ‘certainly possible’ Mr. Trump discussed valuations with him and that it was ‘certainly possible’ Mr. Trump reviewed the Statement of Financial Condition for a particular year before it was finalized.”
Another top Trump Organization executive also testified that he was under the impression Trump reviewed the statements before they were finalized.
While the filing provides less direct links to Trump’s children, it does detail their involvement. Specifically, it alleges that Ivanka Trump rented an apartment at Trump Park Avenue and was given an option to buy it for $8.5 million, despite the fact that the property was valued at $25 million.
It also connected Donald Trump Jr. to some of the properties flagged by claiming investigators found evidence he “was consulted” on the Statements of Financial Condition.
Citing these connections, James argued in a series of tweets Tuesday that it is necessary for her inquiry to question Trump and his two children on their alleged involvement.
“We are taking legal action to force Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump to comply with our investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings,” she wrote. “No one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”
The former president has not yet addressed the matter, but a Trump Organization attorney representing Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump responded by arguing the subpoenas violate the constitutional rights of the family and that the filing “never addresses the fundamental contentions of our motion to quash or stay the subpoenas.”
In a statement Wednesday, the Trump Organization denied James’ allegations as “baseless” and accused her of trying to “mislead the public yet again.”
As far as what happens next, James’ office has said it “has not yet reached a final decision regarding whether this evidence merits legal action.”
Because James’s investigation is civil, she can sue Trump, his company, and his children, but she cannot file criminal charges. However, her probe is running parallel to a criminal investigation into the same conduct led by the Manhattan district attorney, who does have that power.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)
Judges Uphold North Carolina’s Congressional Map in Major GOP Win
The judges agreed that the congressional map was “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting” but said they did not have the power to intervene in legislative matters.
New Maps Upheld
A three-judge panel in North Carolina upheld the state’s new congressional and legislative maps on Tuesday, deciding it did not have the power to respond to arguments that Republicans had illegally gerrymandered it to benefit them.
Voting rights groups and Democrats sued over the new maps, which were drawn by the state’s Republican legislature following the 2020 census.
The maps left Democrats with just three of North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats in a battleground state that is more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Previously, Democrats held five of the 13 districts the state had before the last census, during which North Carolina was allocated an additional seat.
The challengers argued that the blatantly partisan maps had been drawn in a way that went against longstanding rules, violated the state’s Constitution, and intentionally disenfranchised Black voters.
In their unanimous ruling, the panel — composed of one Democrat and two Republicans — agreed that both the legislative and congressional maps were “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”
The judges added that they had “disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our state to ridicule.”
Despite their beliefs, the panel said they did not have a legal basis for intervening in political matters and constraining the legislature. They additionally ruled that the challengers did not prove their claims that the maps were discriminatory based on race.
Notably, the judges also stated that partisan gerrymandering does not actually violate the state’s Constitution.
The Path Ahead
While the decision marks a setback to the plaintiffs, the groups have already said they will appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The state’s highest court has a slim Democratic majority and has already signaled they may be open to tossing the map.
There are also past precedents for voting maps to be thrown out in North Carolina. The state has an extensive history of legal battles over gerrymandering, and Republican leaders have been forced to redraw maps twice in recent years.
A forthcoming decision is highly anticipated, as North Carolina’s congressional map could play a major role in the control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections if they are as close as expected.