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Trump fires top cyber security official who rejected fraud claims

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired top cyber security official Chris Krebs in a message on Twitter, accusing him without evidence of making a "highly inaccurate" statement affirming the Nov 3 election was secure and rejecting claims of fraud.

Mr Trump has made debunked allegations that the election was "rigged" and has refused to concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. His campaign has filed a flurry of lawsuits, although election officials in both parties said they see no evidence of serious irregularities.

Mr Krebs' work in protecting the election from hackers and combating disinformation about the vote won praise from lawmakers of both parties as well as state and election officials around the country. But he drew the ire of Mr Trump and his allies, who were irked over his refusal to support allegations of election meddling. Mr Krebs had told associates he expected to be fired.

Mr Trump said on Twitter that Mr Krebs had assured people in a "highly inaccurate" statement that the election had been secure when there were "massive improprieties and fraud".

Dozens of election security experts on Monday released a letter saying claims of major hacks were unsubstantiated and absurd. Twitter slapped warning labels on Mr Trump's posts, noting: "This claim about election fraud is disputed."

Mr Krebs headed the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency from its inception two years ago.

Meanwhile, about half of all Republicans believe Mr Trump "rightfully won" the election but it was stolen from him by voter fraud that favoured Mr Biden, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The Nov 13-17 poll showed that Mr Trump's open defiance of Mr Biden's victory in both the popular vote and Electoral College appears to be affecting the public's confidence in American democracy, especially among Republicans.

Altogether, 73 per cent of those polled agreed that Mr Biden won the election while 5 per cent thought Mr Trump won. But when asked specifically whether Mr Biden had "rightfully won", 52 per cent of Republicans said that Mr Trump "rightfully won", while only 29 per cent said Mr Biden rightfully won. - REUTERS

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