Cybersecurity

Ousted CISA chief would consider role in Biden administration

Chris Krebs NPPD undersecretary (then acting) testifies FEBRUARY 7, 2018 HSGAC DHS reauthorization hearing 

Chris Krebs testifies before a Senate committee in February 2018.

Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, reinforced his message that the 2020 federal elections were secure and said he would be open to talking about a return to government when the Biden administration takes over.

Speaking at a Dec. 2 Washington Post event, Krebs said the statement last month that the election was the most secure in the nation's history was not just his own view, but that of the dozens of agencies and organizations with whom CISA had been working.

Krebs' time at CISA has won him bipartisan applause. Asked today if he would accept a new role in government from the Biden administration, he said it would depend on the circumstances.

"Anytime you get asked by the leader of the free world to come and take on an important role, you have to give it all due consideration," he said. There would be "a series of considerations and conversations that would have to happen around that."

Matthew Travis, Krebs' former deputy director, spoke out during a Dec. 1 Aspen Institute event about how he and Krebs left their posts.

Travis said Krebs found out he was fired through the president's Nov. 17 tweet. In the following hours, Travis said, he talked to Krebs and offered to resign as well; Krebs told him to stay.

Travis said he was discussing the path forward with CISA's chief of staff when Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called to tell him he could remain at CISA, but the White House did not want him leading the agency.

In the months prior, Krebs, Travis and Wolf had updated CISA's secession protocols that would have made Travis first in line to lead the agency if Krebs left, and Brandon Wales, the executive director and a non-political career official, next in line if Travis left. Travis said Wolf tried but was unsuccessful in persuading the White House to change its position on who would become CISA's new acting director. Given that news, Travis immediately told Wolf he would resign.

About the Author

Justin Katz covers cybersecurity for FCW. Previously he covered the Navy and Marine Corps for Inside Defense, focusing on weapons, vehicle acquisition and congressional oversight of the Pentagon. Prior to reporting for Inside Defense, Katz covered community news in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. Connect with him on Twitter at @JustinSKatz.

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