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Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Wednesday that he has selected Republican donor and businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to fill the soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat of Johnny Isakson.

Why it matters: In appointing Loeffler, Kemp is defying pressure from President Trump and other GOP leaders who have backed Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a staunch ally of the president who would be a lock to vote against removal in the event of an impeachment trial in the Senate.

  • The decision is likely to prompt backlash from some hardline conservatives, who have criticized Loeffler for donating to establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
  • Collins had previously signaled that he may pursue a primary against Loeffler in 2020 if he was not selected for the position.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), another close Trump ally, warned on Twitter that Kemp himself may face a primary from a Trump-backed candidate as a result of the pick: "It’s not the establishment you are screwing with your donor-induced stubbornness. You are hurting President Trump. You know this because he told you.”

The backdrop: Trump told Kemp and Loeffler in a meeting last month that he wasn't sure how his supporters would respond to the choice and raised concerns about Loeffler's experience, according to Politico. Trump said during a tense exchange that he preferred Collins for the position and questioned why they were holding the meeting if Kemp had already made a decision, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

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. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.