Mitch, the muscle
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is muscling out President Trump as the dominant day-to-day Republican powerbroker on Capitol Hill.
Why it matters: Trump’s power persists, and will live on post-presidency. But McConnell — in his cunningly quiet but methodical way — is flexing his authority. It's a taste of a tension that will help define the next four years.
With President Trump offstage and in denial, McConnell conferred the Republican Party's validation of Joe Biden as president-elect, declaring on the Senate floor yesterday: "The Electoral College has spoken. So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."
- Biden called to thank the Kentucky gentleman for the remarks, and told reporters: "There are things we can work together on. ... I'm looking forward to working with him."
A year-end coronavirus deal is alive — because McConnell says it is. McConnell said Tuesday: "We're not leaving here without a COVID package."
In his party's most consequential turning of the page, McConnell yesterday privately warned GOP senators not to join Trump’s extended assault on the Electoral College results.
- McConnell said on a caucus call that any shenanigans on Jan. 6, when Congress will confirm the result in a joint session, would yield a “terrible vote” for Republicans.
- In a real change of tune for the party, McConnell insisted there's "zero sentiment" for an objection.
What's next: Whether Republicans keep the Senate majority or not, McConnell will be the party's last word on what lives and dies from Biden's Hill agenda.
- "He is the obstacle to — and facilitator of — progress," a longtime McConnell associate told Axios.
The bottom line: Remember that McConnell called his autobiography "The Long Game."
- He played it, and won. We're about to see an epic next round.