Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, issued a warning to the Trump administration late Thursday to leave in place senior leadership at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and other national security agencies “to ensure the security and continuity of government operations” for the incoming administration of President-Elect Biden.
Rep. Thompson said his statement was prompted by a Reuters report that CISA Director Christopher Krebs has told associates he expects to be fired by the White House, which reportedly is upset with CISA for not acquiescing to a request to change the language of its Rumor Control website that debunks instances of misinformation and disinformation regarding last week’s U.S. elections.
CISA put up the Rumor Control website last month, which covers disinformation scenarios to help distinguish between “rumors and facts on election security issues.” The site advises readers to look for trusted sources of information, share information only from trusted sources, and discourage others from sharing “sensational but unverified information.”
CISA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.
Late on Thursday, a group of election security leaders including Bob Kolasky, Director of the National Risk Management Center at CISA, issued a statement pronouncing the November 3 election as “the most secure in American history,” and said they found no evidence of voting system compromises, or changed votes.
Just this week, CISA confirmed that Bryan Ware is stepping down as the agency’s assistant director for cybersecurity.
In a strongly worded statement, Rep. Thomson praised CISA’s work on election security, and said President Trump has “never missed an opportunity to subvert CISA’s work and even amplified disproven rhetoric aimed at undermining confidence in the integrity of our elections. I commend CISA on remaining steadfast in its commitment to providing accurate information to the public, including its statement today that there is no evidence that any election system was compromised last week.”
“Today, there are rumors the President may be cleaning house at CISA,” said Rep. Thomson, referring to the report about Krebs. “This is dangerous. The President’s refusal to put country before ego is a national security threat.”
“A disturbing number of national security positions are already led by ‘acting’ officials. The outgoing President must leave the leadership of CISA – and other national security departments and agencies – intact for the next 69 days to ensure the security and continuity of government operations for President-elect Biden,” the congressman said.
“And I call on my Republican colleagues to stand up for national security and use whatever influence they have to prevail upon the President not to eviscerate our national security infrastructure in the remaining two months of his term,” Rep. Thompson said.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a social media posting: “Chris Krebs has done a great job protecting our elections. 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. None.”