Top US cybersecurity official reportedly says he expects to be fired

Christopher Krebs leads the agency that secures voting technology, which has been pushing back on misinformation about the election

Christopher Krebs, director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is the government’s point person on securing voting technology.
Christopher Krebs, director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) is the government’s point person on securing voting technology. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Christopher Krebs, director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) is the government’s point person on securing voting technology. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Guardian staff and agency

Last modified on Thu 12 Nov 2020 15.38 EST

Top US cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs has told associates he expects to be fired by the White House, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Krebs is the government’s point person on securing voting technology and is widely respected among local election officials. His agency has also been aggressively pushing back on rumors that something went wrong with the 2020 election, as Donald Trump, who refuses to concede to the president-elect, Joe Biden, contests.

Krebs, who heads the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa), did not return messages from the Reuters news agency seeking comment. And the Cisa and the White House declined comment.

Separately, Bryan Ware, assistant director for cybersecurity at Cisa, confirmed to Reuters that he had handed in his resignation on Thursday.

Krebs has drawn praise from both Democrats and Republicans for his handling of the US election, which generally ran smoothly despite persistent fears in the run-up that foreign hackers might try to undermine the vote or that there might be chaos with mail-in voting during a pandemic or intimidation of voters going to the polls to cast their ballots in person.

But he drew the ire of the Trump White House over a website run by Cisa dubbed Rumor Control which debunks misinformation about the election, according to the three people familiar with the matter.

White House officials have asked for content to be edited or removed from the website, which has disputed numerous false claims about the election, including that Democrats are behind a mass election fraud scheme, for which no evidence has been presented. In response, Cisa officials have refused to delete accurate information.

In particular, one person said, the White House was angry about a Cisa post rejecting a conspiracy theory that falsely claims an intelligence agency supercomputer and program, purportedly named Hammer and Scorecard, could have flipped votes nationally. No such system exists, according to Krebs, election security experts and former US officials.

Meanwhile Ware is one of several officials who have left national security-related posts since Donald Trump lost the election to Joe Biden. Trump has yet to concede.

Ware did not provide details, but a US official familiar with his matter said the White House asked for Ware’s resignation earlier this week.

The churn is being closely watched amid concern for the integrity of the transition from Trump to Biden.