By ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Chris Krebs, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency — fired by President Donald Trump after stating there was no evidence of election fraud — is scheduled to testify Wednesday before a GOP-controlled Senate committee claiming it needs to keep investigating unfounded claims about the 2020 election.
The hearing “Examining Irregularities in the 2020 Election” was announced by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair Ron Johnson last week and immediately drew blowback from Democrats who argued that holding a committee challenging the election results would be damaging to democracy.
The hearing will come just one day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly stated for the first time that Joe Biden is the president-elect, with many Republicans falling in line behind him.
Krebs, who came to public attention after Trump fired him via tweet for claiming that the November election was the “most secure in American history,” was called as a witness by the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.
“I am appalled by many of my colleagues’ choice to help spread the President’s lies and false narratives about the outcome of the 2020 election,” Peters said in a statement. “This isn’t simply another partisan political issue – repeating these falsehoods erodes the public’s trust in this fair and free election, lays the groundwork to weaken the public’s trust in future elections, emboldens our adversaries, and undermines our democracy and the peaceful transition of power.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who called on Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the committee meeting last week, citing concerns that questioning the election outcome would be damaging to democracy.
“To use a senate committee to spread misinformation about our own elections, that is beyond the pale,” Schumer said last week.
Johnson is standing by his hearing, calling famed lawyer and former special counsel Ken Starr, who defended Trump during the impeachment hearing in January, to join the panel on Wednesday.
In a statement scheduling the hearing last week, Johnson said that while he recognizes that issues related to the integrity of the election are being raised in court, many Americans do not trust that the 2020 election results were “legitimate”.
“That is not a sustainable state of affairs for our country,” Johnson wrote. “The only way to resolve suspicions is with full transparency and public awareness.”
No evidence of widespread voter fraud has been identified. The Trump legal team has taken dozen of legal challenges to court, none of which have so far been successful.
In the time since the Electoral College certified Biden’s wins, many Republicans have publicly acknowledged Biden’s win. Even Johnson himself reportedly conceded Tuesday that the election is all but settled during an interview with a local Wisconsin reporter.
Johnson said “yes” when asked if the election was legitimate, according to the local outlet. Johnson contended that there were irregularities but nothing that would overturn the election results.
At least one committee Republican has said he will not attend the hearing: Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
“I’m not going to go to that,” Romney said on CNN Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s productive at this stage.”
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