The Road to Jan 6 Final

With a Tweet, Donald Trump Fired the Official Who Stated There Was No Election Fraud

In this daily series, Newsweek explores the steps that led to the January 6 Capitol Riot.

On Monday, November 16th, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray were worried enough about Donald Trump & Company's loud claims to meet with election security experts to more fully understand the systems and machines that had been used in the elections.

"I won the Election!" President Trump tweeted in the morning. "The Radical Left Democrats, working with their partner, the Fake News Media, are trying to STEAL this Election," he tweeted. "We won't let them!" Then election conspiracy head Sidney Powell was quoted as saying that Trump's lawyers were "getting ready to overturn election results in multiple states."

FBI forensic experts and Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) officials piled into the Top Secret cleared special room at the Department of Justice to brief Barr and Wray and answer questions. According to a homeland security executive who was in the room, who requested anonymity because he is discussing classified matters, the discussion was intense and technical, the two men drilling into the details.

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Attorney General William Barr listens as President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office in Washington, D.C. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty

Was there any way that the Dominion Voting Systems machine could change votes? The answer was no. Was there any veracity to the claim that the microchips in the machines, made in China, could be programmed a certain way or manipulated in the machines? The answer was no. Was there any way that other systems used to count votes could or were penetrated? The answer was no. Was there any way mail-in ballots were thrown away, fraudulently submitted, falsely counted? The answer was no: nothing even close to what the Trump camp was claiming.

There was discussion of the intelligence on Russian and Iranian attempts to interfere in the elections through social media as well as attempts traced back to them to penetrate state-level databases. But after 2016, holes had been plugged up and the two agencies—along with the CIA, the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command —were this time focused on thwarting any interference. Was there any way that the integrity of the elections were questionable? The answer was no. What about fraud on the part of vote counters and local officials? No sign, said the FBI.

The conclusion was definitive. All of the claims were false and concocted. There was no way votes had been stolen from anyone. Maybe there were mistakes in tabulating at the county or state-level. Yes, mail-in ballots were processed after November 3. But nothing—nothing—suggested any steal.

"Yes, there's been election fraud in the past, but the controversies surrounding the outcomes of elections, in 2000 with Bush and the election of Donald Trump, were never about anyone changing votes. They were about mistakes. And mostly politics," the homeland security executive told Newsweek.

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Donald Trump fired the Homeland Security Official via tweet, "effective immediately." JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The head of the CISA Christopher Krebs, a former Microsoft policy director, had maintained a rumor control blog. He felt so strongly about the work of his agency that he stated publicly that the election had been secure and that fraud allegations were baseless or "technically incoherent."

"There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," said the agency in a public statement.

NBC News reported that the Homeland Security acting secretary had tried to "rein in" Krebs, asking him not to tweet or counter claims being made by Trump.

Donald Trump promptly fired Krebs via tweet, "effective immediately." He had put out a statement, Trump said, that was "highly inaccurate."

Senators and representatives spoke out in support Krebs, his expertise and credibility, condemning Trump's move. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called Krebs' firing "a gut punch to our democracy."