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Breitbart, the right-wing news outlet with close ties to the White House, is now openly campaigning for Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows to become Speaker of the House.

Shortly after the healthcare vote, a source familiar with Breitbart's editorial operations called Axios to preview their campaign for Meadows:

"Mark Meadows is the acting Speaker of the House. Expect Breitbart coverage to reflect that."

On Breitbart's homepage: An image of Meadows that wouldn't look out of place on a presidential campaign. In case that wasn't clear enough, a headline in the top corner of the website read: "SPEAKER MEADOWS?"

None of this should be surprising. Breitbart's editorial team, led by Matthew Boyle, has had a vendetta against Ryan from day one. Just weeks after Ryan took the Speakership, Steve Bannon sent an internal email saying the "long game" was for Ryan to be out of a job by spring. On Breitbart conference calls Bannon used to call Ryan "the enemy," and attack him as a "globalist" who was too soft on immigration. While the two have since patched over their differences — and even found common ground on tax reform — the animus toward Ryan lives on among Breitbart's editorial leadership.

"It's clear that Paul Ryan was just field-stripped by the House Republican conference on health care," the source said of Thursday's healthcare vote. "Negotiations on major elements of President Trump's agenda must be negotiated by other Republican members of the House including the Tuesday Group and the Freedom Caucus."

Side note: Meadows is far from a beloved figure outside of the Freedom Caucus. House leaders mostly loathe him and words like "sociopath" are freely used in private conversations about him. Nor has it been entirely smooth for Meadows within his own group. Two Freedom Caucus members publicly dropped out of the caucus this month. A senior GOP aide said this to Axios about Meadows' prospects for Speaker: "Meadows would never get 218 votes. Not even close. He's despised by many in our conference."

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

5 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.