It shouldn’t be admirable for government officials to publicly defend the integrity of their own work, especially on a matter as basic as election security. But after spending five years watching so many rodents in the GOP’s leadership class cower before Trump for fear of losing their jobs, having DHS and its partner agencies step up to counter the president’s “voter fraud” narrative at a moment like this is not just remarkable but subversive.
Here’s the statement from the “Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee,” which includes an alphabet soup of agencies at the federal and local level. The most noteworthy is the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an arm of DHS created by Trump in 2018 and charged with protecting critical infrastructure like elections from cyberattacks. CISA has been debunking voter fraud claims on its official webpage and on social media for the past week; its director, Chris Krebs, has amplified those debunkings on social media as well, sometimes with his own comments. Earlier today, Reuters reported that the White House was pressuring CISA to remove a critique it posted of the Dominion “Hammer and Scorecard” conspiracy theory that Trump screamed about in a tweet this morning. Krebs refused, and told people around him that he expected to be fired because of it.
The last tweet he sent as I’m writing this is a retweet of this item, calling out Trump specifically:
Please don't retweet wild and baseless claims about voting machines, even if they're made by the president. These fantasies have been debunked many times, including by @DHSgov @CISAgov on this excellent site/resource, Rumor Control.https://t.co/XUcOkrQUf6
— David Becker (@beckerdavidj) November 12, 2020
Ominously, Krebs’s name isn’t on the joint statement issued this evening. It’s the assistant director who’s credited with it, which I assume means Krebs is already a goner. If so, his career went out with the political equivalent of a Viking funeral. From the statement:
“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.
“When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.
“Other security measures like pre-election testing, state certification of voting equipment, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) certification of voting equipment help to build additional confidence in the voting systems used in 2020.
“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”
The boldface part was boldfaced by the authors themselves in the version sent to reporters, not by me. “[T]he sad reality is it’s a dangerous document for the officials who wrote it,” says Axios, correctly. “Every person who had a hand in writing it will almost certainly face the wrath of Trump and his inner circle in the White House.” My brain doesn’t know how to process information at this point involving federal officials showing integrity in the face of threats from the president despite the risk to their careers just because it’s the right thing to do for the country. It’s almost literally inconceivable in our banana-republic government of 2020.
And because it is, it probably won’t do much of anything to influence Senate Republicans. Forced to choose on the one hand between the credibility of a dozen or so cybersecurity agencies involved in election security at a granular level and on the other hand Trump and his cavalcade of embarrassing conspiracy-minded lawyers like Rudy Giuliani, people like Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz will remain studiously agnostic unless and until Trump releases them by backing off from his “I was cheated” claims.
Meanwhile tonight in Arizona, a state that’s nearly must-win for the president if he wants to somehow knock Biden down below 270 electoral votes:
More than half of all counties in Arizona have conducted post-election audits and found either no discrepancies or microscopic issues that don’t affect the outcome of the race, according to reports filed with the Arizona secretary of state’s office.
Audits in Arizona’s four largest counties, which comprised 86% of all votes for president in the state, turned up no evidence of the systematic voter fraud about which President Donald Trump has complained. There were no irregularities found in Maricopa County, which is the most populous county in the battleground state and includes Phoenix, the reports show. Officials in Pima County, home to Tucson, audited a random sample of 4,239 votes in the presidential race and only found a two-vote discrepancy.
The Washington Examiner is reporting that Trump’s advisors “believe he has accepted that he is unlikely to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory and will begin to plot life after the White House, including a 2024 run, once his campaign had exhausted all its lawsuits.” According to one, “I suspect that once those cases are heard and adjudicated, and once we get through the Georgia recount, that the president will begin the public off-ramp.” Okay, but I’m not sure how he takes that off-ramp after he tweeted to 80 million people this morning that “Dominion deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide.” His fans are going to cling to that. What’s he supposed to say, “It totally happened but literally no one can prove it but somehow I know it’s true”? For cripes sake.
Anyway, I hope Biden hires Krebs back. We need more people with integrity in government. A lot, lot, lot more.