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

Several Senate Republicans are pushing back on President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race 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 CornynDACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats Schumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy Data reveal big opportunity to finish the vaccine job MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios House rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ky.).

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Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Schumer sets up key vote on bipartisan deal Graham: Bipartisan infrastructure pay-fors are insufficient 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 CollinsSchumer urges GOP to ignore Trump: He's 'rooting for failure' Trump pressures McConnell, GOP to ditch bipartisan talks until they have majority Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal 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 CapitoOfficials warn of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in water systems Graham, Hawley call on Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on US-Mexico border GOP senators urge Biden to keep Trump-era border restrictions 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 SasseSasse calls China's Xi a 'coward' after Apple Daily arrest Defunct newspaper's senior editor arrested in Hong Kong Murkowski: Trump has 'threatened to do a lot' to those who stand up to him 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 PortmanSenators scramble to save infrastructure deal On The Money: Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds | Trump tells Republicans to walk away | GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden Schumer urges GOP to ignore Trump: He's 'rooting for failure' 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 RubioGOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden Bipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks 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 CruzTrio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia next week 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 BurrBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Bipartisan group to issue 'promising' statement on infrastructure path forward First responders shouldn't have to tackle tigers 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 GrahamGOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats Senate braces for a nasty debt ceiling fight 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 WhitehouseKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers blast FBI's Kavanaugh investigation as 'sham' New York gun rights case before Supreme Court with massive consequences  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 MeadowsTrump to Pence on Jan. 6: 'You don't have the courage' Trump said whoever leaked information about stay in White House bunker should be 'executed,' author claims 'Just say we won,' Giuliani told Trump aides on election night: book 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.