A coalition of federal and state officials found no evidence that votes were compromised or altered in last week’s presidential election, rejecting unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud advanced by President Donald Trump and many of his cult followers. Top officials: Nov. 3 election most secure in US history:
The statement late Thursday, by government and industry officials who coordinate election cybersecurity, trumpeted the Nov. 3 election as the most secure in American history. It amounted to the most direct repudiation to date of Trump’s efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest, and echoed repeated assertions by election experts and state officials over the last week that the election unfolded smoothly without broad irregularities.
“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,” the statement said. “When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”
It was distributed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which spearheaded federal election protection efforts and tweeted by its director, Chris Krebs. Hours earlier, he was the subject of a Reuters story that said he had told associates he expected to be fired by Trump. Krebs has been vocal on Twitter in repeatedly reassuring Americans that the election was secure and that their votes would be counted.
“America, we have confidence in the security of your vote, you should, too,” he wrote.
The statement’s authors said they had no evidence that any voting system had deleted or lost votes, had changed votes, or was in any way compromised. They said all of the states with close results have paper records, which allows for the recounting of each ballot, if necessary, and for “the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors.”
“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result,” the statement said.
The statement’s authors include the presidents of the National Association of State Election Directors and the National Association of Secretaries of State — who run elections at the state level — and the executive committee of the government-industry coordinating council that includes all the major voting equipment vendors.
The message stands in stark contrast to Trump’s unsupported claims of fraud and widespread problems that he insists could affect vote totals. So naturally, Trump is retaliating against the nation’s intelligence community for debunking his election fraud hoax. Donald Trump is the single greatest threat to our national security.
The Washington Post reports, Two senior Homeland Security officials forced out as White House firings widen:
The White House has forced out two top Department of Homeland Security officials as part of a widening purge of anyone suspected of lacking complete loyalty to President Trump, three people familiar with the removals said Thursday.
Valerie Boyd, the top official for international affairs at DHS, was asked for her resignation, as well as Bryan Ware, a senior policy aide at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The requests came from the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office, whose 30-year-old director, John McEntee, has recently intensified efforts to purge appointees who have failed to demonstrate sufficient fealty to the president.
“They’re looking for complete loyalty, and someone with experience serving different administrations is not perceived as sufficiently loyal,” said one person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the moves, referring to Boyd’s previous roles in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
Boyd, in a resignation letter obtained by The Washington Post, wrote to DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf that she hopes government officials will “act with honor” during the transition to a new presidency. Boyd declined to comment Thursday.
“It has been my belief that people of character should support the institution of the Presidency and work within it to inform and influence policy decisions that reflect well on the people’s government,” Boyd wrote. “This belief has been tested many times these past few years, and it is my fervent prayer that I made the best possible choices. I wish you and our colleagues across the government the strength to act with honor in the months ahead.”
The latest removals came as DHS’s top cybersecurity official, Christopher Krebs, told colleagues he, too, expected to be fired by the White House at any moment. Top cyber official expecting to be fired as White House frustrations hit agency protecting elections:
The U.S. government’s top cybersecurity official has told people that he expects the White House to fire him, three people familiar with the situation told POLITICO, as the Trump administration continues a purge of officials deemed disloyal to the president.
Chris Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, is in the White House’s crosshairs in part because of a website he created to debunk election-related misinformation — much of which President Donald Trump and other Republican Party leaders have embraced as they seek to undermine the legitimacy of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
In another sign of trouble for CISA, which has for years avoided the chaos of the Trump administration, another top agency official submitted his resignation on Thursday. Bryan Ware, the leader of CISA’s Cybersecurity Division, confirmed his departure to POLITICO but did not identify a reason. However, a U.S. official familiar with the matter told Reuters that the White House requested his resignation.
Krebs, one of the few Trump administration officials with widespread bipartisan support and admiration, has been expecting to be fired since just after Election Day, according to three people familiar with his thinking.
His agency has been at the forefront of federal efforts to protect U.S. elections from foreign hacking and interference, and his efforts have drawn praise from people in both parties. But Krebs has told people that he believes the White House is unhappy with his efforts to combat disinformation about voter fraud — claims that have primarily been coming from Trump and his allies. And that could make him the latest national security leader to lose his job amid a post-election purge that has already forced out Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other top Pentagon officials.
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Speculation about Krebs’ fate has heightened among people in tech and national security circles since a POLITICO story on Tuesday reported on his and CISA’s efforts to debunk the baseless voter-fraud allegations. Those include CISA’s Rumor Control website, which has knocked down rumors such an alleged flurry of votes by dead people, and Krebs’ Twitter feed, which he frequently uses to promote the fact-checking page.
People throughout the cybersecurity and technology realms expressed dismay Thursday at the prospect of Krebs’ departure.
“Firing Chris Krebs at this point makes no sense,” said Michael Daniel, who served as President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity coordinator and is now president of the Cyber Threat Alliance, an information-sharing group. “Disrupting CISA’s leadership … potentially opens a window that adversaries could take advantage of.”
Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook, said during an election integrity briefing Thursday that Krebs had succeeded in a delicate task. “He’s walked this very fine line, I think very well, of trying to address those issues and to raise concerns when appropriate, while also pointing out that the existence of real issues as you have in any complex system does not mean that the election was stolen.”
Still, a former senior U.S. official said that “several folks in the government” expected the POLITICO story to result in Krebs’ firing.
The White House is particularly angry at CISA for debunking a conspiracy theory, known as “Hammer and Scorecard,” about a supposed supercomputer and accompanying software that flipped votes during the election, according to Reuters. Krebs has been particularly vocal in debunking this conspiracy theory, calling it “nonsense” and “a hoax”.
On Thursday evening, Krebs retweeted an election technology specialist who warned people not to share “wild and baseless claims about voting machines, even if they’re made by the president.”
A technology industry executive familiar with the matter told POLITICO that the White House “was agitated that CISA would not remove some item(s) from their Rumor Control page.”
The Rumor Control page has not been the only point of friction between Krebs and the White House, according to a current U.S. official.
The White House’s personnel office “has wanted to fire Krebs for a while,” said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “From what I’ve heard from the [White House], they’ve considered removing him before.”
Now some people fear what will happen to the agency’s efforts if he departs.
“Chris Krebs is the Administration’s foremost civilian expert on cybersecurity and election integrity,” said a former Trump transition official, who requested anonymity to offer a candid reaction. “He put his head down … and did the country a tremendous service with a laser-like focus on protecting America’s critical infrastructure, including election security. It’s a shame if some inexperienced staffers in the White House blinded by MAGA politics don’t see it that way.”
Chris Painter, who served from 2011 to 2017 as the United States’ top cyber diplomat, told POLITICO that Krebs “has been a great leader of DHS’ cyber programs and has been particularly effective in fighting election interference.”
“The threat of interference and disinformation continues after the election,” Painter said. “Firing him now makes no sense and just makes our response weaker.”
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Matthew Travis, CISA’s deputy director, is a political appointee who is also subject to White House removal. Another person whose job may be in jeopardy is Matthew Masterson, CISA’s lead election security staffer. Masterson, whom state and local election officials widely credit with helping to build a robust election security partnership, is also a political appointee whom the White House can order fired if it chooses to do so.
But CISA’s third-ranking official, executive director Brandon Wales, is a career civil servant who cannot be fired except with cause.
“Some [at] CISA are probably worried,” the official said of Krebs’ potential firing, “but there has been a transition plan in place.”
As for CISA’s Cybersecurity Division, Ware’s departure leaves Matt Hartman, a 10-year veteran of CISA and its DHS predecessor, as the acting leader of the division. Like Wales, Hartman is a career civil servant.
The cyber division focuses on protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and defending federal civilian networks through monitoring, threat-hunting and vulnerability management services. It coordinates with the Infrastructure Security Division, which helps protect critical facilities such as power plants from physical threats, and with the National Risk Management Center, which houses CISA’s Election Security Initiative.
Even as speculation about his fate swirled on social media Thursday afternoon, Krebs stayed on message. During a virtual meeting of DHS’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, he noted that, with upcoming Senate runoff elections in Georgia scheduled for early January, CISA wasn’t done protecting the 2020 elections.
“While our nation’s highest-profile election took place last week,” he said, “our mission’s going to continue: to defend our democracy.”
Donald Trump is the single greatest national security threat to undermining our democracy. Vice President Mike Pence and Republican leadership in Congress are complicit in their failure to act to defend our democracy from this threat.