Wednesday briefing: Trump fires election cybersecurity chief as revenge | World news

Top story: ‘Chris Krebs obviously should not be fired’

Good morning, Warren Murray here with you “as the coronavirus pandemic continues” – a phrase that is beginning to grate a little …

Donald Trump has just fired the US chief of election cybersecurity for debunking claims of electoral fraud. The president announced the sacking in a series of falsehood-laden tweets that were in stark contrast to the evidence-based assurances that Chris Krebs and his Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had given about the election results being free of fraud and interference.

Democrats condemned the sacking and were joined by at least one Republican, Ben Sasse, a senator from Nebraska, who said: “Chris Krebs did a really good job. He obviously should not be fired.” The firing by Trump of one of his own appointees comes as he refuses to recognise the victory of the president-elect, Joe Biden, and removes high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal. Krebs had indicated he expected to be fired – last week his agency released a statement confirming that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history … There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

In an alarming moment overnight, Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan set the state on a path to constitutional crisis after trying to overthrow the will of voters. Despite court challenges being rejected, they refused to certify the vote count in the area centred on Detroit city, where Biden clearly beat Trump by a margin of more than 2-1. The Republicans relented after angry condemnation from their Democratic counterparts and the public. In Pennsylvania the state supreme court has ruled election officials did not improperly block Trump’s campaign from observing the counting of mail-in ballots. Separately, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has turned in an embarrassing performance in a federal court of the same state, where in rambling submissions he tried to salvage another conspiracy-fuelled case against the election results. A verdict is awaited on whether the case will be thrown out.

Midweek catch-up

> Labour has reinstated Jeremy Corbyn who was suspended after saying antisemitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”. The Jewish Labour Movement condemned his readmission.

> Failure to reach a post-Brexit EU trade agreement would cut the UK’s economic growth by more than half next year, delaying recovery from the pandemic recession, says KPMG, which adds that it still expects a last-minute bargain to be struck.

> Boris Johnson has announced plans for a green industrial revolution, bringing praise from environmental groups but questions about funding and the expansion of nuclear and hydrogen power. The PM said the plan would create up to 250,000 jobs.

> Black people in England and Wales are more than five times as likely as white people to be victims of homicide, research shows. Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology also found that Asian people faced twice as much risk as white people.

> Harvey Weinstein is sick and being “closely monitored” in prison, a representative for the convicted sex offender said. The spokesman did not confirm whether the 68-year-old had tested positive for Covid-19 at a New York jail.

School heads worn out – England could be faced with the resignation of almost half its headteachers after the pandemic, according to a poll by their union, the NAHT. Headteachers interviewed by the Guardian said they were stressed and exhausted because of the enormous pressures of dealing with Covid and extremely stretched school budgets. The union is calling for a “revolution” in professional development for teachers and leaders to help the catch-up on lost learning time. A separate Shelter/YouGov survey has found widespread concern among teachers about pupils arriving at school hungry, dishevelled and exhausted. More than half of teachers had worked in the past three years at an educational setting with children who were, or became, homeless and had to live in temporary housing.

Square Mile goes solar – A solar farm in Dorset is to power London’s Square Mile. The City of London Corporation expects to save £3m by buying over half of the electricity powering the historical financial district from a subsidy-free solar farm in the south-west of England made up of 95,000 new solar panels over the next 15 years. Its 49 megawatts will be fed into places like the Square Mile’s historic Guildhall buildings, the Barbican arts centre, and the Smithfield, Billingsgate and New Spitalfields markets, which are also overseen by the corporation.

Beano grows up – The 82-year-old Beano comic will this week publish its first ever version aimed at grownups with a story that revolves around Sandra and Dennis Sr Menace, parents of Dennis, and the dastardly Wilbur Brown, father of Walter the Softy. The cast list also includes Captain Tom Moore, Marcus Rashford, Greta Thunberg and, like an adult Dennis and Gnasher, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

Comic strip from the BeanOLD pullout section

Photograph: Beano

It is a pullout section, BeanOLD, which both children and parents should enjoy, said Mike Stirling, the editorial director of Beano Studios. “We just wanted to cheer everyone up. One thing we noticed was that our readers were feeling a bit sorry for the adults in their lives.”

Today in Focus podcast: What No 10 turmoil means for UK

Boris Johnson has gotten rid of his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, and his director of communications, Lee Cain. Katy Balls explains what it means for Brexit and the government’s handling of the Covid crisis.

Today in Focus

What No 10 turmoil means for UK

Lunchtime read: Is Amazon the real pandemic?

Online retail grew massively in lockdown, and Amazon reaped huge profits. But where is the company’s relentless innovation and automation heading? John Harris asks whether is it time to clip its wings.

Robot hand grasping Amazon symbol

Illustration: Steven Gregor


Germany were humbled 6-0 by Spain, who join France in next year’s Nations League Finals after Manchester City’s Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick in the rout in Seville. England have dropped Jack Willis and drafted Lewis Ludlam and George Ford into a 25-man squad for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup game against Ireland as they ready themselves for a furious physical challenge from opponents desperate to avoid another tame Twickenham defeat. Gareth Southgate has said his England squad are being put under heavy pressure from their clubs to manage their involvement with the national team amid an imposing schedule of domestic and international football. Phil Neville has packed his England women’s squad for this month’s training camp with youth and handed the Manchester United forward Lauren James her first senior call-up. Dominic Thiem produced a stunning performance to defeat Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the ATP Finals in London.

Tennis authorities have encountered “challenges” over the arrival dates of players in Australia ahead of the new 2021 season, throwing the ATP Cup and other Australian Open lead-up events into doubt. The England and Wales Cricket Board has admitted its pool of professional match officials is lacking in diversity and a review of the system is now under way. Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez will take on Liverpool’s Callum Smith on 19 December, it has been announced by promoter Matchroom. Plans to allow supporters back into football matches, perhaps before the end of the year, are being considered in government. And Dr Richard Freeman, the former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor, claimed he had “never, ever taken any undue risks with a rider” and one had “never come across any harm” as a result of his care at his fitness-to-practice hearing.


The UK music industry will halve in size because of the pandemic, according to a new report by the sector’s umbrella body. UK Music says the sector’s record 11% growth in 2019 will be reversed in 2020 thanks to the shutdown of the live music scene, dealing it a “catastrophic blow”. The FTSE 100 is set to open down 0.15% this morning while the pound will buy you $1.326 and €1.117.

The papers

The Guardian print edition leads with “Revealed: fast track for PPE firms with political ties”. Almost 500 suppliers were directed to a “high-priority” channel where bids were 10 times more likely to be successful, according to the National Audit Office. It also found shortcomings in how other Covid contracts were awarded to other companies, with a PR firm being one example. The Metro demands: “Come clean over £18bn Covid deals”.

Guardian front page, Wednesday 18 November 2020

Guardian front page, Wednesday 18 November 2020.

The Telegraph has “Starmer under fire as Corbyn readmitted”. “End of road for petrol and diesel cars” says the Mail, while the Times has “Petrol and diesel ban from 2030” as the government instigates a switchover to electric vehicles. “Johnson seeks Downing St reset with ‘green industrial revolution’” reports the Financial Times.

The Express has “Revealed – 3-day plan to save family Christmas” but the Sun comes up with a different number: “5 days of Christmas”. The i gets in on the story with “Families will meet again in Christmas Covid plans”. The Mirror announces “World Cup legend Hurst: I will donate my brain to science”, as Sir Geoff raises awareness after dementia linked to heading the ball killed several of his 1966 team-mates.

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