Christopher Krebs is a 43-year-old former Microsoft executive who had the unenviable government job of protecting the nation’s election machinery from manipulation by Russia or other foreign hackers. It turns out, though, that some of the most dangerous interference has come not from the Kremlin but from the White House, where the president called the election “rigged” before a single vote was cast.
Mr. Krebs’s organization, the Department of Homeland Security’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has systematically shot down Mr. Trump’s false claims — that mail-in ballots would lead to extensive fraud and that voting machines were programmed to give votes to Joseph R. Biden Jr. — as part of its “rumor control” initiative to keep Americans from doubting the integrity of the election system.
To no one’s surprise, speculation swept through cybercircles in Washington on Thursday that Mr. Krebs was high on President Trump’s list of officials to be fired after his agency, known as CISA, released a statement from a government-led coordinating council saying that “there is no evidence” any voting systems were compromised and that the 2020 election “was the most secure in American history.” This occurred only hours after Mr. Trump had repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system had “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide.”
As of Friday night, Mr. Krebs was still employed, and still at his office, and shrugging it all off. As a father of five children, ages 2 through 10, he says he is used to living in chaos.
His department’s rumor control website, he said, was never devised with the president in mind. It was instead for “inoculating the American public” to make clear that even if there were fake websites created by the Russians and Iranians to stir up divisions before the election, “it wouldn’t mean that votes were affected, or tabulations were wrong.” A case in point: An Iranian effort to imitate the far-right Proud Boys was caught by American intelligence, and threatening emails the group had supposedly sent voters were debunked.
If anyone believed the warnings about false information posted on the website were about the president, he said, that was their interpretation. “We’ll stand up for all our work,” he said.