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McConnell swats back at Trump amid Republican power struggle

It took four years and an election defeat. But someone with real power inside the Republican Party is standing up to — and swatting back — President Trump: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Why it matters: This is a preview of the power struggle that will define the Republican Party in 2021.


You saw this with McConnell acknowledging Joe Biden as President-elect.

  • You saw this with McConnell blocking Trump's push to raise stimulus checks to $2,000, which would have split Senate Republicans.
  • And you're seeing it now with his effort to curtail futile resistance by the GOP to congressional certification of Biden's victory.

Yes, but: Until now, McConnell's strategy was buffeted by the chaos Trump created. Now, the Senate leader — whose autobiography is called "The Long Game" — is finally able to set the party's course.

  • "McConnell is trying to reclaim the role he had in 2009 — leader of the opposition to a new Democratic president," said a Republican operative familiar with the leader's thinking.

What he's thinking: Depending on the outcome of Tuesday's Georgia runoffs, McConnell will have to find a way to protect — or regain — a Senate majority, in the face of Trump and his operatives promoting candidates who could win primaries but might well lose.

  • During Trump's presidency, Axios' Margaret Talev points out, McConnell gained from an alliance that yielded 200+ lifetime judgeships — including three Supreme Court justices. As ex-president, Trump carries more liability. 

The bottom line: Beginning 19 days from now, McConnell is the most powerful Republican in the land.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for violence ahead of Biden inauguration

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and in states across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

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Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after sheltering with maskless colleagues during last week's deadly Capitol riot. But he did not specify whether his diagnosis was connected to the siege.

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Far-right figure "Baked Alaska" arrested for involvement in Capitol siege

The FBI arrested far-right media figure Tim Gionet, known as "Baked Alaska," on Saturday for his involvement in last week's Capitol riot, according to a statement of facts filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

The state of play: Gionet was arrested in Houston on charges related to disorderly or disruptive conduct on the Capitol grounds or in any of the Capitol buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session, per AP.

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Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

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Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

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Off the rails: Trump's premeditated election lie lit the fire

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

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Armin Laschet elected as leader of Merkel's CDU party in Germany

Armin Laschet, the centrist governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected on Saturday as the new leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeating the more conservative Friedrich Merz by a 521-466 margin.

Why it matters: Laschet is now the most likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as the standard bearer of the German center-right heading into September's elections. With Merkel preparing to step down after 16 years in power, Laschet is seen as a continuity candidate.

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