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Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu, J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Steve Bannon has dispatched Breitbart reporters to Alabama with a mission to discredit Roy Moore's accusers, just as Mitch McConnell has been stepping up his efforts to force Moore from the race. The Bannon vs. McConnell feud has been heating up ever since Bannon left the White House, and he said last week that he hopes to help force McConnell out as Majority Leader within a next year.

Be smart: Alabama is likely the first of many Bannon v. McConnell proxy wars. Bannon plans to use Breitbart's platform and his alliance with billionaire donor Robert Mercer to challenge Republican incumbents in 2018. This isn't about right vs. left for Bannon, it's about dismantling the "political establishment."

  • In August, shortly after leaving the White House, Bannon told The Economist, "I'm going to light him up," in reference to McConnell.
  • Bannon has since started a Civil War within the GOP centered on 2018 elections by backing opposition candidates to Republican incumbents. Bannon requires potential candidates to promise public opposition to McConnell. It's become a litmus test for his support. (More on that.)
  • Early last month, a former McConnell aide called Bannon a white supremacist, which Bannon backers used to fuel antagonism toward the Majority Leader.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McConnell, announced plans to fight back against Bannon's 2018 efforts, attacking him personally and spending millions of dollars on traditional GOP candidates.
  • Earlier this month, Mercer — who has been a significant funder for Bannon and Breitbart's war against McConnell — released a statement saying that he does not always agree with him.
  • Bannon told the New York Times last week, "I have an objective that Mitch McConnell will not be majority leader, and I believe will be done before this time next year."
  • Breitbart reporters Matt Boyle and Aaron Klein went to Alabama to discredit sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore, and Axios' Jonathan Swan wrote yesterday, "I expect more counter-attacks will play out in Breitbart News and other outlets over the coming days."
  • Today, McConnell called for Moore to step down, saying, "I believe the women."
  • Recent Breitbart headlines: "Mitch McConnell Folds Under Populist Pressure, Extends Senate Workweek" "Mitch McConnell Leads Establishment Republicans in Effort to Push Roy Moore Out of Alabama Race" "Swamp Triggered as Steve Bannon Eyes 2018 Coalition to Challenge Establishment Lawmakers" "Steve Bannon Slams McConnell's 'Outrageous' Lack of Support for Trump Agenda" "Quin Hillyer: Mitch McConnell Helped Create Mess in Alabama"

Go deeper

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

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