Christopher Krebs, the cybersecurity official fired last month by Donald Trump, has filed a lawsuit over threatening remarks by a Trump lawyer that prompted hundreds of death threats against him and his family.
Krebs' complaint charges that he has been "bombarded" with death threats ever since right-wing attorney Joseph diGenova appeared on Newsmax TV and called for his execution.
"The defendants' threats have upended plaintiff's life, as well as his family's security, and caused serious fear, distress, suffering, and even physical damage," says the lawsuit filed in diGenova's home state of Maryland.
Krebs was director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency until he was fired in a Nov. 17 tweet by Trump after he announced his agency's finding that the election was free of major fraud or interference, contradicting Trump's false claims.
DiGenova said in a Nov. 30 Newsmax TV appearance that Krebs should be "drawn and quartered" and "taken out at dawn and shot" for his defense of the November election. The lawyer later said he had been joking , but the lawsuit terms his remarks "shockingly irresponsible and dangerous.".
"No one should be targeted and defamed as a 'traitor' for faithfully performing the duties of public service," Krebs attorney Jim Walden said. "That is what happened to Chris and to Republicans all across the country, who truthfully, and based on their substantial experience, are upholding the integrity of the election in the face of a false narrative regarding its results."
Krebs is seeking financial damages from diGenova, Newsmax, and the Trump campaign.
Newsmax said in response to questions about the suit that it has no official ties to diGenova, who appeared on a syndicated radio program licensed by the TV network. While his remarks about Krebs were "inappropriate" the network said he did not intend to be taken seriously and has apologized.
"Newsmax believes that claims made by Mr. Krebs in his suit of a 'conspiracy' and defamation against him are a threat to free speech and his legal action endangers all media organizations that seek an open discourse of ideas and news," Newsmax said.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.