Exit strategy
January 15, 2021

President Trump is planning to exit the White House on the morning of Jan. 20, a few hours before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in a short distance away, CNN reports. "Eager for a final taste of the pomp of being president, Trump has asked for a major send-off," and "as one of their final acts, Trump's team is working to organize a crowd to see him off on the morning of Biden's inauguration, when he plans to depart Washington while still president" for a flight to Palm Beach, Florida, where his term will officially end at noon.

There are 20,000 National Guard troops currently deployed or en route to Washington, D.C., ahead of Biden's inauguration, because the last crowd Trump drew to the White House morphed into an insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol.

Plans are still being ironed out, CNN says, but "Trump told people he did not like the idea of departing Washington for a final time as an ex-president, flying aboard an airplane no longer known as Air Force One. He also did not particularly like the thought of requesting the use of the plane from Biden." The Bidens will wake up on Inauguration Day at nearby Blair House, CNN reports, adding that "its use was offered to them by the State Department rather than the Trumps, who refuse to make contact with the incoming president and first lady."

"Trump has expressed interest to some in a military-style sendoff and a crowd of supporters," CNN says, but it's unclear "whether that occurs at the White House, Joint Base Andrews, or his final destination, Palm Beach International Airport."

Outgoing U.S. presidents almost always attend the swearing-in of their successors, Defense One notes, and "in recent decades, the outgoing president and first lady walk down the back steps of the Capitol to an awaiting helicopter, which then makes the short five-minute flight over to Joint Base Andrews in nearby Maryland. Upon arriving at Andrews, the former president and first lady are usually greeted by a military honor guard, former staffers, friends, and other well wishers." Two senior Pentagon officials confirmed to Defense One on Thursday that, in a break with recent tradition, no military farewell is being planned for Trump. Peter Weber

November 18, 2020

President Trump fired Christopher Krebs, the well-regarded director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), via tweet on Tuesday, citing Krebs' public assurances that the 2020 election was historically secure and free of fraud or serious error.

Krebs was the rare Trump administration official almost universally regarded as competent, apolitical, and effective in a crucial area that needed such leadership. And he apparently found a way to make sure his agency continued without too much political inference in the event he was fired. "Late Tuesday," The Washington Post said, "acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf called Krebs' deputy, Matthew Travis, to inform him that the White House had overruled CISA's succession plan that named him acting director, essentially forcing him to resign, Travis said." A DHS spokesman said the White House did not directly ask Travis to step down.

With Travis out, CISA leadership goes to Brandon Wales, "a career employee whom Trump cannot fire," Politico says. "Mr. Krebs specifically created Mr. Wales' position as executive director to make it more difficult for the White House to install partisan replacements atop the agency," The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Before joining the Trump administration in 2017, Krebs worked in the George W. Bush DHS then served as a lobbyist for Microsoft. In 2018 he was promoted to DHS undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which became CISA with legislation signed in November 2018. Krebs became the de facto "cyber czar" when the White House eliminated the cybersecurity coordinator position at the National Security Council. During his tenure, he worked not just on shoring up America's creaky election security but also on cybersecurity and ransomware threats at hospitals, utilities, and other critical infrastructure.

Krebs won widespread praise for increasing trust and cooperation with disparate federal agencies, hackers, and state and local election officials. He survived several shakeups at Trump's DHS, but his "Rumor Control" initiative to swat down election misinformation was evidently a bridge too far for Trump, whose misinformation Krebs repeatedly, if indirectly, debunked. "Honored to serve," Krebs tweeted after his firing. "We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow." Peter Weber

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