Capito said she was “disappointed” and flummoxed by Trump’s personnel decisions: “I can’t explain it.” Others were more blunt.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called Trump’s move a “terrible mistake,” adding that Krebs is “an extraordinary talent who does a superb job overseeing the protection of our cyber capabilities.”
The firing also set off renewed concerns that the president would spend his final weeks in the White House impulsively ousting officials who crossed him and making erratic policy shifts that could not be easily undone.
“It’s the president’s prerogative, but I think it just adds to the confusion and chaos,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters. “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.”
In fact, few Republicans took issue with Krebs at all. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a strong supporter of the president, said Krebs did an “outstanding” job in his role because of the lack of foreign interference in the 2020 campaign.
Krebs’ firing comes amid a purge of senior officials viewed as insufficiently loyal to the president, who is actively preventing President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team from beginning the transfer of power. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was the first to go, and there are broader fears Trump could fire CIA Director Gina Haspel or FBI Director Christopher Wray next.
“If it looks like there’s just a flurry of them, it will raise more questions,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) acknowledged.
And while Republicans are expressing some concern with the moves, they also acknowledge there is little they can do to stop the president in his final 63 days in office.
“Look, I think we’re at a period in time, the president has a decision who he wants to have in office and who he doesn’t have in office,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said of Krebs. “From everything I saw, it appeared that he did an able job in a difficult and important role.”
Some GOP senators on Wednesday were reluctant to criticize Trump’s decision to fire Krebs, even as they praised his work atop CISA.
“The president doesn’t get to pick who works in my office. So we may have an opinion on our interactions with these individuals but at the end of the day the president gets to pick who serves in the executive branch,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Trump fired Krebs in a tweet that continued his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and pushed back on a recent statement by Krebs and other top officials asserting that the Nov. 3 election was “the most secure in American history.” Without evidence, Trump said that statement was “highly inaccurate” and, “therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated.”