This last piece of truth-telling got Krebs fired, but for the country, it was an invaluable service. Before his ouster, Krebs’s agency, working with the FBI and state and local election authorities, had created a record that should be strong enough to withstand the barrage of attacks from Trump supporters who want to reverse the election outcome. This evidence shows that, as CISA and a coalition of other election officials said last week, the 2020 election “was the most secure in American history.”

The moral of this story is that officials can protect the country — if they show some backbone. Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, could begin a proper transition process now, if she mustered the courage. Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser, could check the machinations of the team Trump has installed at the Pentagon after firing Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, if he put the country first. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could reduce the ruin Trump has brought the GOP if he recognized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump, the great disrupter, can survive in power only by creating such a tempest at home or abroad that he has a pretext to cling to power as commander in chief. But this outrage cannot happen unless good people let him get away with it. Message for public officials: Be like Krebs.