Home WorldAmericas Trump Fires Official Who Disputed Baseless Claims of Election Fraud

Trump Fires Official Who Disputed Baseless Claims of Election Fraud

by Inside Out
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Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, had called the election “the most secure in American history.” Republican members of an elections board in Wayne County, Mich., changed course after initially refusing to certify results.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Trump fires Christopher Krebs, official who disputed his election fraud claims.
  • A Michigan county certifies its election results, with Republicans changing course after accusations of partisanship.
  • Biden’s Covid advisers say that by blocking the transition, Trump may hold up vaccine distribution.
  • Former national security officials brief Biden as Trump continues to block access to classified intelligence.
  • The payment Giuliani is said to have requested from Trump could make him one of the most highly paid lawyers anywhere.
  • Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court handed the Trump legal team another loss as they were arguing a separate case.
  • Biden’s initial White House appointments prompt mixed reactions from progressives.
  • Judy Shelton’s confirmation to the Fed fails to advance to a final vote.
  • A congressman from New Orleans informed his constituents he was joining the Biden administration.

On the Senate floor, Republicans who haven’t publicly acknowledged Trump’s loss congratulate Harris.

President Trump on Tuesday night fired his administration’s most senior cybersecurity official responsible for securing the presidential election, Christopher Krebs, who had systematically disputed Mr. Trump’s false declarations that the presidency was stolen from him through fraudulent ballots and software glitches that changed millions of votes.

The announcement came via Twitter, the same way Mr. Trump fired his defense secretary last week and has dismissed other officials throughout his presidency. Mr. Trump seemed set off by a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security late last week, the product of a broad committee overseeing the elections, that declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate,” Mr. Trump wrote a little after 7 p.m., “in that there were massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.”

He said Mr. Krebs “has been terminated” as the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a post to which Mr. Trump himself had appointed him.

Mr. Krebs, 43, a former Microsoft executive, has been hailed in recent days for his two years preparing states for the challenges of the vote, hardening systems against Russian interference and setting up a “rumor control” website to guard against disinformation. The foreign interference so many feared never materialized; instead, the disinformation ultimately came from the White House.

Only two weeks ago, on Election Day, Mr. Krebs’s boss, Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, had praised Mr. Krebs’s work. But behind-the-scenes efforts by Mr. Wolf and others to keep Mr. Trump from firing Mr. Krebs apparently failed.

Mr. Krebs did not immediately respond to questions for comment. But after his termination, he tweeted from his personal account: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow. #Protect2020”

DETROIT — Republican members of a key elections board in Michigan refused on Tuesday to certify a county’s election results in a nakedly partisan effort to hold up President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump — only to reverse themselves after an outcry from state officials and Detroit voters.

The initial deadlock and turnaround on the elections board in Wayne County, Mich., was among the starkest examples of how previously routine aspects of the nation’s voting system have been tainted by Mr. Trump’s effort to challenge his defeat, though its reversal also showed the limits of what is, in essence, an attempt to disenfranchise large numbers of American voters.

The Republican board members certified the results only came after several hours of angry comments by citizens, many from Detroit, who accused the Republicans of trying to steal their votes.

The two Republicans on the county elections board said they had voted against certifying the results because many precincts were out of balance, even though the disparities mostly involved a small number of votes. The board deadlocked, with Michigan Democrats denouncing the opposition as a blatantly political intrusion into the process and criticizing the move by Republicans as because one board member had singled out Detroit, a predominantly Black city.

— Kathleen Gray, Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti

Top health advisers to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned on Tuesday that planning for the distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine and other attempts to fight the coronavirus were being frustrated by President Trump’s refusal to allow an organized transition to begin.

The leaders of Mr. Biden’s Covid Advisory Board said they were being prevented from working with government officials who are in charge of distributing the vaccines. And they said that they did not have access to any government data on case counts, deaths or hospitalization, relying instead on media and private reports.

“There’s no time to waste. We don’t have a day to waste,” said Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. “Vaccine distribution is difficult and daunting under any circumstance.”

The grim warnings from the health officials come as a political appointee of Mr. Trump’s at the General Services Administration has refused to formally recognize that Mr. Biden is the winner, a move that would allow current government health officials to work with the Biden transition team.

Mr. Biden on Monday said that “more people may die” from the virus as a result.

His health advisers offered more specifics on Tuesday, saying that the incoming team needs access to information about medical supply chains, data on testing, specifics about therapeutic efforts, and other data that will be critical once the Biden administration is in charge of responding to the pandemic.

“There is valuable information inside the information that is held by career officials,” said Vivek Murthy, a co-chair of Mr. Biden’s advisory board and a former surgeon general. “We need to talk to those individuals. We need to work together with them.”

Several former national security officials briefed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday, calling new attention to President Trump’s refusal to authorize a transition of power that would allow Mr. Biden to receive classified intelligence briefings.

The virtual meeting, which Mr. Biden held from Wilmington, Del., was attended by 13 former military, diplomatic and intelligence officials who served with him during the Obama administration, including some who are likely to be in line for senior positions on the incoming national security team.

Collectively, the group offered Mr. Biden hundreds of years of experience and intellectual firepower, but all have been out of government for several years and are no longer privy to the new, secret information that the president-elect would receive during a normal presidential transition.

The officials included Antony J. Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state and Mr. Biden’s longtime senior foreign policy aide, and Avril Haines, a former C.I.A. deputy and the director of foreign policy on the transition team. Also in attendance were four retired military generals, including Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, whom President Barack Obama fired in 2010, and the former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.

Mr. Biden reminded the group that he had been denied the daily briefings from federal intelligence officials customarily provided to a president-elect.

“I am unable to get the briefings that ordinarily would come by now,” he said, “and so I just wanted to get your input on what you see ahead.”

Mr. Biden offered few other details about the conversation with the group, which included several top names from the national security establishment, including:

  • Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired general and the first African-American to lead the military’s Central Command
  • Carmen Middleton, formerly the No. 4 official at the C.I.A., who was the highest-ranking Latina in the intelligence community when she retired in 2017
  • Vincent Stewart, a retired Marine lieutenant general, a Jamaican-American and the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a retired career diplomat who is among the Foreign Service’s most accomplished Black members
  • Nicholas Burns, a retired career Foreign Service officer who served in senior posts under Democrats and Republicans
  • David S. Cohen, a former deputy C.I.A. director
  • Kathleen H. Hicks, who has held senior Pentagon policy and planning posts
  • Robert O. Work, a former deputy secretary of defense
  • William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral and the former commander of the United States Special Operations Command

Notably absent from the group were some heavyweight figures in Mr. Biden’s orbit who might be in line for cabinet posts: Susan Rice, a former national security adviser who is in the running for Secretary of State, and Michèle Flournoy, who was the Pentagon’s top policy official under Mr. Obama and is a natural contender for secretary of defense.

Mr. Biden also spoke on Tuesday with five more international leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, bringing the number of major leaders with whom he has spoken this week to 13.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has helped oversee a string of failed court challenges to President Trump’s defeat in the election, asked the president’s campaign to pay him $20,000 a day for his legal work, multiple people briefed on the matter said.

The request stirred opposition from some of Mr. Trump’s aides and advisers, who appear to have ruled out paying that much, and it is unclear how much Mr. Giuliani will ultimately be compensated.

Since Mr. Giuliani took over management of the legal effort, Mr. Trump has suffered a series of defeats in court and lawyers handling some of the remaining cases have dropped out.

A $20,000-a-day rate would have made Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has been Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for several years, among the most highly compensated lawyers anywhere.

Reached by phone, Mr. Giuliani strenuously denied requesting that much.

“I never asked for $20,000,” said Mr. Giuliani, saying the president volunteered to make sure he was paid after the cases concluded. “The arrangement is, we’ll work it out at the end.”

He added that whoever had said he made the $20,000-a-day request “is a liar, a complete liar.”

There is little to no prospect of any of the remaining legal cases being overseen by Mr. Giuliani altering the outcome in any of the states where Mr. Trump is still fighting in court, much less of overturning President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College and popular vote victory. Some Trump allies fear that Mr. Giuliani is encouraging the president to continue a spurious legal fight because he sees financial advantage for himself in it.

The Trump campaign has set up a legal-defense fund and is said to be raising significant sums to continue legal challenges in places like Pennsylvania and Georgia.

A Trump campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Giuliani had sought compensation for his work dating back to the day after Election Day, when Mr. Trump began publicly claiming that he won despite the results, according to people familiar with the request, who asked for anonymity to speak about sensitive discussions.

At $20,000 a day, Mr. Giuliani’s rate would be above the top-of-the-line lawyers in Washington and New York who can charge as much as $15,000 a day if they are spending all their time working for a client.

— Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman

Pursuing one of their most legally fraught election cases filed so far, lawyers for the Trump campaign appeared in court again this afternoon to ask a federal judge to stop certification of the vote in Pennsylvania.

President Trump’s legal team for this case — his third set of lawyers on it since it was filed last week — was expected to tell Judge Matthew W. Brann of the U.S. District Court in Williamsport that Pennsylvania election officials mismanaged the widespread use of absentee and mail-in ballots in the state.

The campaign seeks to effectively invalidate the results of the statewide count and deny Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Lawyers for the state and for the Democratic Party have argued in court papers that the campaign’s arguments are untimely, far too general to succeed and cannot overturn enough votes in Pennsylvania to overcome Mr. Biden’s lead, which now stands at about 73,000 votes.

“To effectuate the will of the millions of Pennsylvanians who voted in this election, the court should bring this litigation to a close expeditiously, dismiss plaintiffs’ evidence-free claims, and allow the Commonwealth to complete the electoral process,” the lawyers argued in a brief filed on Monday.

In the middle of the federal hearing, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a decision saying that election officials in Philadelphia had acted properly by keeping observers a safe distance from the vote counting in Philadelphia’s convention center. The ruling by the Supreme Court reversed one of the Trump campaign’s only legal victories so far.

On Election Day, the campaign filed a lawsuit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas arguing that rules keeping observers at least 10 feet from the counting of the vote were improper, even though they were put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

After the campaign lost its suit, it appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which ruled that observers could move to within six feet of the count. The Supreme Court decision on Tuesday found that Philadelphia election officials had not broken the law because the election code does not specify “a minimum distance” that observers must stand from the counting.

Since Election Day, the Trump campaign and other Republican plaintiffs have lost more than 20 court actions challenging the integrity of the presidential race, including four federal lawsuits — in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — that were voluntarily withdrawn on Monday by the man who oversaw them, the conservative lawyer James Bopp Jr.

Also on Monday, a court in Michigan denied an appeal to reverse a lower court’s decision that tossed out a suit aimed at stopping the certification of the vote in Wayne County, home of Detroit. The plaintiffs in that case, two Republican poll workers, appealed again on Tuesday to the Michigan Supreme Court.

This list of legal losses notwithstanding, the federal case in Pennsylvania has been especially beset by problems.

Last Friday, the law firm Porter Wright, which filed the initial lawsuit, withdrew from the case after The New York Times published an article describing how some lawyers at the firm were concerned that its work for Mr. Trump was eroding faith in the democratic process.

Over the weekend, a Trump campaign lawyer filed a revised version of the suit that dropped the formal claim that Republican poll observers have not been given adequate and equal access to the vote counting process.

And on Monday night, the legal team that had taken over for Porter Wright withdrew and was replaced by yet another set of lawyers. The Trump campaign’s new lead lawyer in the case, Marc A. Scaringi, immediately tried to delay today’s hearing but Judge Brann denied his request.

“Counsel for the parties are expected to be prepared for argument and questioning,” the judge wrote in a terse order issued Monday night.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the decision to switch legal teams on the eve of today’s hearing was made by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, who has taken charge of the postelection courtroom strategy.

Mr. Giuliani asked Judge Brann on Tuesday morning for permission to appear in the case.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced several appointments to his White House senior staff on Tuesday, filling out his incoming administration as President Trump continues to refuse to acknowledge his election victory.

Mr. Biden announced that Mike Donilon, the chief strategist for his campaign and a decades-long friend and adviser, will serve as a White House senior adviser and will be especially involved in speechwriting and messaging. Mr. Donilon also served as counselor when Mr. Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama.

His White House counsel will be Dana Remus, who served as general counsel to the Biden-Harris campaign and previously was general counsel of the Obama Foundation. She is a former law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law and a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Mr. Biden also confirmed three other West Wing appointments first reported Monday night: Representative Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana will oversee public outreach; Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, will become a deputy chief of staff; and Mr. Biden’s longtime confidant Steve Ricchetti will be counselor.

All three will most likely have offices down the hall from the Oval Office, making them among the most senior aides in the West Wing.

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon will be chief of staff to the first lady, Jill Biden. A partner at the law firm of Winston & Strawn, she is a former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay. Dr. Biden’s senior adviser will be Anthony Bernal, who was her campaign chief of staff and Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign manager.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a former national political director for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign, will run the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Annie Tomasini, now Mr. Biden’s traveling chief of staff, will be director of Oval Office operations.

In a statement, the Biden-Harris transition team said the selections “demonstrate President-elect Biden’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, has deep expertise governing, and will be ready to help the president-elect deliver results for working families on Day 1.”

Decisions about cabinet secretaries most likely remain some time away, according to people close to Mr. Biden, who has spent recent days in closed-door discussions with advisers about the challenge of winning confirmation fights if the Senate remains in the hands of Republicans next year. Senate control will be determined by the results of two runoff races in Georgia.

Mr. Biden’s picks came as Mr. Trump continued to refuse to cooperate with the transition of power, a position Mr. Biden suggested on Monday could cost lives when it came to the national coronavirus response.

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Mr. Biden said.

On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, made a carefully calibrated call for Mr. Trump to allow Mr. Biden’s transition team access to the virus response plans.

While insisting he wanted to “stay out of the political stuff,” and avoiding mention of Mr. Trump, Dr. Fauci said at The Times’s DealBook Summit, “We need to transition to the team that will be doing this, similar to how we’re doing it.”

Separately on Tuesday, leaders of three major medical associations urged the Trump administration to “work closely with the Biden transition team” in order to stem a surging virus as the United States enters the holiday season.

In a letter to Mr. Trump, leaders with the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association said the administration should share information on the current plans for distributing a vaccine, as well as data on medical equipment inventory and hospital bed capacity.

— Michael Crowley and Pranshu Verma

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