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GOP breaks with Trump firing of cyber chief: Adds to 'confusion and chaos'

Several Senate Republicans are pushing back on President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE's decision to fire Chris Krebs, a top cybersecurity official, in a rare break with the administration.

The reactions from GOP senators, who generally are careful to stick closely to Trump, range from those offering support for Krebs to those openly breaking with Trump's decision to fire him.

"It’s the president’s prerogative but I think it just adds to the confusion and chaos, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like some return to a little bit more of a — I don’t even know what’s normal anymore. We’ll call it the next normal," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Trump's NATO ambassador pledges 'seamless' transition to Biden administration MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE (R-Ky.).

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Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions MORE (R-S.D.) said Trump should be “very proud” on the administration’s work on election security and that Krebs had a “major role.”

“I was very disappointed when I found out that he’d been terminated,” Rounds said.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate MORE (R-Maine) noted that Krebs's firing was the president’s decision, but called it a “terrible mistake.” 

“I don’t agree with it,” Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGraham: Trump should attend Biden inauguration 'if' Biden wins As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony MORE (R-W.Va.) added. “He’s kept us very well informed, he's been very professional. I've had several meetings with him ... and I'm appreciative of all of his work” 

Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right Whoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' MORE (R-Neb.), another member of the Intelligence panel, praised Krebs in a statement, adding that he "obviously should not be fired."

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate Biden says transition outreach from Trump administration has been 'sincere' MORE (R-Ohio) defended Krebs during an interview with CNN, calling him a "real professional" and someone that he's "worked well with."

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"I think he was very good. I think what he was trying to do in an unprecedented way was to connect with every state in the country, and give them what they needed to protect and have a firewall in place to protect against cyberattacks," Portman said.

Other GOP senators were more tepid, noting they thought Krebs had done a good job but that it was up to the president whether he stayed in the position.

Senate Intelligence Committee acting Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread Potential 2024 Republicans flock to Georgia amid Senate runoffs Voters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican MORE (R-Fla.) said his interactions with Krebs were "positive" and he doesn't "have any criticism of his work" but that it was up to Trump whether to fire him.

“I don’t have any problem with the job Krebs did, but all these people work for the president. There’s nothing illegal or improper in that sense in him having people work underneath him that he wants to work for him," Rubio said.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration proceeds with rollback of bird protections despite objections | Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians | EU 2019 greenhouse gas emissions down 24 percent Trump's NATO ambassador pledges 'seamless' transition to Biden administration Potential 2024 Republicans flock to Georgia amid Senate runoffs MORE (R-Texas) added that it was a decision about what officials Trump wanted in office but "from everything I saw it appeared that he did an able job in a difficult and important role."

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNorth Carolina — still purple but up for grabs North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid Lara Trump mulling 2022 Senate run in North Carolina: report MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, became one of the first GOP senators to praise Krebs on Tuesday night, while not criticizing his firing, calling him a "dedicated public servant who has done a remarkable job during a challenging time."

Krebs had served as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security since CISA’s establishment in 2018. But he was widely expected to be fired over efforts to debunk conspiracies about voter fraud and the security of the election.

Trump, in the tweet announcing his ousting, accused Krebs of releasing a statement about the election that was "highly inaccurate."

CISA put out a statement affirming that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history." The statement also said that there was "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," breaking with the president.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Trump should attend Biden inauguration 'if' Biden wins Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Georgia governor rejects Trump's call to 'overrule' elections officials with emergency powers MORE (R-S.C.) said firing Krebs was Trump's prerogative but that he doesn't "think there was any interference in our election by foreign powers."

"Now there may be some irregularities at the state level, but I believe that this election was secure when it came to foreign influence," Graham said.

Democrats have lambasted the decision to fire Krebs, and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee MORE (D-R.I.) went as far as to suggest that the incoming Biden administration rehire him.

But the administration has defended the decision.

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"I can tell you, as with any personnel decision, they're a lot more complex than what may be just a headline here," White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE told reporters on Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn't respond to a question about Krebs as he walked between his office and the Senate floor.

But he defended the security of the 2020 election, which he said was "smoothly conducted," during a weekly press conference on Tuesday and pointed to it as an improvement over 2016.

"One of the great success stories of the current administration is ... the dramatic improvement from 2016 under the Obama administration to 2020 under the Trump administration, the coordination between Homeland Security and secretaries of State in charge of conducting elections all around the country," McConnell said. 

--Updated at 1:35 p.m.