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Fired cybersecurity chief hints at legal action after Trump campaign lawyer said he should be shot

Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia elections official, implored Trump and other federal officials to condemn the remarks.
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WASHINGTON — Christopher Krebs, who was recently fired by President Donald Trump as the head of the federal government's election cybersecurity efforts, suggested Tuesday that he might take legal action against one of Trump’s lawyers who said that Krebs should be shot.

In an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show, host Savannah Guthrie asked Krebs how concerned he is about the comments made by Trump campaign lawyer Joe diGenova on Monday in which he said Krebs “is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

“It's certainly more dangerous language, more dangerous behavior," Krebs responded. "And the way I look at it is that we are a nation of laws, and I plan to take advantage of those laws. I've got an exceptional team of lawyers that win in court, and I think they're probably going to be busy.”

Asked if there may be legal action taken as a result of those comments, Krebs said his team is looking at their “available opportunities.”

DiGenova made the comment during an interview with conservative radio talk show host Howie Carr, whose show is also aired on Newsmax, one of the president’s preferred media outlets.

Krebs suggested that his critics have not been successful in scaring him. When asked if he is worried about his safety, Krebs said he is “not going to give them the benefit of knowing how I'm reacting to this. They can know that there are things coming up.”

A top Georgia elections official implored Trump and other federal officials to condemn the remarks.

"Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you've not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up and if you're going to take a position of leadership, show some," said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system implementation manager, who added that election workers had received death threats after the remarks.

"If you want to run for reelection in four years, fine do it," Sterling added, appearing to address Trump directly. "But everything we're seeing right now, there's not a path. Be the bigger man and stop, step in, tell your supporters don't be violent."

In response to Sterling's comments, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said, "No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully.”

Krebs later hailed Sterling on Twitter, saying, "This right here is leadership. This is standing up for your people. This is calling it like you see it. This is courage."

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, diGenova said, “For anyone listening to the Howie Carr Show, it was obvious that my remarks were sarcastic and made in jest. I, of course, wish Mr. Krebs no harm. This was hyperbole in a political discourse.”

During an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Krebs criticized Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani for spreading misinformation about the election, which Krebs has repeatedly said was secure and not subject to widespread fraud.

Referring to a news conference Giuliani recently held at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Krebs said: “It was upsetting because what I saw was an apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people. It's not me, it's not just CISA. It's the tens of thousands of election workers out there that had been working nonstop, 18-hour days, for months. They're getting death threats for trying to carry out one of our core democratic institutions, an election. And that was, again, to me, a press conference that I just — it didn't make sense. What it was actively doing was undermining democracy. And that's dangerous.”

Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, has been the target of public criticism from Trump over his agency's Rumor Control blog, which rebutted a list of false claims about election fraud and hacking — many of which the president and his lawyers have promoted as real since he lost the election.