As the President continues to deny the reality that he lost, his head of intelligence now says that Trump’s claims of voter fraud, which have been roundly debunked, are being taken and amplified by foreign adversaries.
Their goal is “to undermine public confidence in our democratic processes,” John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, told CBS News in an interview, declining to say which countries.
Ratcliffe is a fierce Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing intelligence to fuel Trump’s attacks on the Russia investigation. In the interview, he was able to skirt around his own thoughts on the fraud claims by arguing they are not an intelligence matter, but rather a concern for domestic law enforcement.
One election security official went too far for Trump: after the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber agency declared the election to be the most secure in US history, its director, Chris Krebs, was fired by tweet for what Trump called a “highly inaccurate” statement.
“It’s perfectly clear to me and I think most Americans,” Krebs told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday, “that the election is over.”
“We have a President-Elect in Joe Biden and we have to move forward,” Krebs said. “We have to get past this. The damage that’s been done to the American confidence in the election — I hope we’re not at a point of no return, but we’re going to have a lot of work to restore confidence.”
His firing on November 17 was the culmination of two weeks of post-election debunking from Krebs and his Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of claims by the President and his supporters. CISA has continued to push back since Krebs was fired, with two more posts this week on its “Rumor Control” page disputing claims about ballots being destroyed and voting systems manipulated.
“We will keep issuing Rumor Control entries as we think that the situation warrants it and where we can actually have an impact,” said CISA’s new Acting Director Brandon Wales on Thursday, “through the end of this cycle.”
‘Baffling’ and ‘insulting’
Some of the administration officials Krebs worked with most closely on the election have been bolder in their rebukes of the President than others.
Commissioner Ben Hovland of the Election Assistance Commission called Trump’s claims “baffling” and “insulting.”
With Trump claiming that voting machines changed and deleted votes for him, the EAC — which tests voting systems – on Thursday released a statement that they “have confidence in the state and local election administrators who ran the 2020 election, and the voting systems certified by the EAC.”
The country’s top counterintelligence official said Wednesday that he’s concerned about post-election conspiracy theories, calling elections “the core fundamental basis for which we have the ability to live in an amazing democracy.”
Bill Evanina, who briefed both the Trump and Biden campaigns on election threats, said on an Aspen Cyber Summit panel that he’s proud of the “unprecedented” cooperation between the federal agencies, tech and social media companies, which thwarted foreign attacks.
Intelligence officials who worked on the election, including the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command’s Gen. Paul Nakasone, haven’t and are unlikely to directly speak out about the President’s continuing false claims given the sensitivities of their positions and their focus on foreign threats. But there is only praise from across the intelligence community for how smoothly things went.
Krebs, while at the helm of a domestic agency, had a more direct role in the areas where the President has pushed conspiracy theories and had become a more visible spokesman for election security than most of his national security counterparts.
He and others have decried the “travesty” of election workers across the country now receiving death threats because of the accusations that the election was rigged, fueled by Trump.
This week, one of Trump’s campaign lawyers said that Krebs should be “drawn and quartered” for his comments and “taken out at dawn and shot.”
Asked about the comment, Evanina said “it’s just embarrassing to me” as a decades-long public servant.
“I think it’s wholly inappropriate and disappointing to me as an American,” he said. People who work on elections, he added, “should have the ability to do that with safety and security and not be anguished because one party lost, one party won.”