Transcript: Chris Krebs on "Face the Nation," January 10, 2021

Krebs says Trump "has to resign" in wake of Capitol attack
Krebs says Trump "has to resign" in wake of C... 06:17

The following is a transcript of an interview with former CISA Director Chris Krebs that aired Sunday, January 10, 2021, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. For more context on some of the online discourse that fueled the assault on the capital. We want to go now to the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs. Good to have you back with us.

FORMER CISA DIRECTOR CHRIS KREBS: Hey, good morning, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Wall Street Journal has reported that the FBI and Homeland Security never issued a threat assessment to local law enforcement here in D.C. about what happened on Wednesday ahead of time. Given that there were explicit online conversations about storming the Capitol, how is it possible that this was not a known threat?

KREBS: So, you know, I'm sure that the ensuing investigation will get to the bottom of what happened. I- I think to a certain extent we may have had some negative learning from the summer's protests and riots and maybe there was an overreaction in the wrong way that led to some of the- some of the breakdowns here. But again, there's an investigation. But to be clear, you know, we- at least when I was there, we certainly anticipated physical violence as the ultimate manifestation of the president and the campaigns' and his attorneys' and his supporters' claims that the election was rigged or stolen. And, you know, those claims continue. The latest dog whistle is election irregularities. So, those that are promoting these- this narrative, these conspiracies have to stop. They have to denounce these- these claims.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, Homeland Security warned back in October that right wing groups may use political rallies and they actually pose a direct threat in terms of action. But then during the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, you know, the homeland security secretary was on this program and others touting the fact that the federal government could put federal agents in cities, whether mayors or governors wanted them there or not, that they had the power to do more. So, you know, why not do more if within the agency there were the threats that you just highlighted? Whose fault is that?

KREBS: Again, the investigations will get down to it. The- and particularly in the District of Columbia, the federal authorities on federal land, like the National Mall, like the Capitol grounds, have even greater authorities than they would in- in any American city. So clearly, there was some sort of coordination and preplanning breakdown. You know, what I would be thinking about right now is what happens on the 20th, what are the protections that are going to be in place. But there- there is an opportunity here, I think, to- to prevent further- further bloodshed. And I don't know if the president is capable of doing it, but he has to resign. He has to tell his supporters that he lied to them, that this was all his own fraud. He has to come out. We have to set an example for the rest of the free world that attempted coups, which is what this was, will not be tolerated. And there has to be an accountability. So whether it's the 25th Amendment push, whether it's an impeachment, the president needs to be held accountable for- for supporting and really inciting the activity of this past week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And our reporting shows that he has no intention to do that, to resign. We know, though, that he does plan, and our CBS News team is reporting, he does plan to speak tomorrow, but we're told it's going to be to blast big tech for decisions like what Twitter just did to ban him. We also know Apple, Amazon, Google, they have blocked the Parler app, which is also been used as a forum to plan these kind of events. What is the impact of that?

KREBS: Well, look, I think at this point, particularly after Wednesday, the president's legacy is a heap of ashes. There's- there's nothing redeemable at this point, given the fact that he incited this attempt to overturn democracy, a fair and free election. There is an opportunity, though, for a redemption story. Again, he can resign. He can tell his supporters that it was all a long- a big con and that he is sorry. I don't know if he's capable of doing it, but that's the best way to prevent further violence, to prevent further erosion of confidence in democracy over the next four years. And every single Republican on the Hill that continues to support these erec- election irregularities has to do the same thing. They have to denounce it and they have to come back to the middle.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And yet, on the issue of cyber and social media, which you've spent a lot of time thinking about, a lot of conservatives are speaking out not against the president and his use of it, but against the idea that Twitter is censoring somehow conservative thought. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is likely to run in 2024, is out there tweeting this is un-American and a tactic of the left. Is this a free speech issue?

KREBS: No. The First Amendment doesn't apply to private sector organizations. That's not how this works. That's government in- impeding speech and the ability to hear. And that's not what's happening here. These are companies that have their- their own ability to enforce their- their standards and their policies. I think there was a legitimate public policy interest over the last four plus years in- of maintaining the president and his voice on Twitter and other platforms. But- but clearly, what is- what he has done has exceeded any reasonable public policy interest. Now, the- the hard part is in implementing these standards--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

KREBS: --globally, consistently. Other foreign leaders, for instance, you know, they need to be consistent. They need to probably take similar action.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Chris Krebs, thank you for your time.