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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republican members of Congress said nothing when President Trump told minority congresswomen to "go back" to where they came from.

  • Trump tweeted this morning that "Progressive Democrat Congresswomen" should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
  • Trump was almost certainly talking about the group popularly known as "the squad" — Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
  • WaPo's Phil Rucker points out that "three of the four members of 'the squad' were born in the United States, so they would 'go back' to Cincinnati, Detroit and New York." (Omar was born in Somalia and came to the U.S. as a refugee.)

Between the lines: Trump knows he can say whatever he likes and face no consequences from the party he has conquered.

  • The few Republicans who dared to defy him either got crushed by pro-Trump candidates in primaries (Rep. Mark Sanford), quit the party (Rep. Justin Amash) or retired (Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker). One remaining critic, Sen. Mitt Romney, mostly pushes back by issuing stern but ineffectual tweets. And Sen. Ben Sasse, who used to lambaste the president, has mostly gone silent. 
  • No modern president, besides George W. Bush immediately after the 9/11 attacks, has enjoyed such popularity with Republican voters.

What's new: Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, has a book out this week that documents Trump's conquest of the Republican Party — the domination evidenced above.

  • Axios obtained an advance copy of the book, "American Carnage," which is deeply reported and engrossing. The book reveals Trump's delight in tormenting Republicans who he views as weak or disloyal, and it helps explain the partywide silence on days like today.
Two exclusive excerpts are especially revealing

1. The tormenting of Diane Black

"Not everyone was lucky enough to land Trump's support. Diane Black, the Tennessee congresswoman, was running in a crowded GOP primary to become the state's governor.

During a meeting with several House Republicans ... she pulled the president aside. 'You really need to endorse me,' she told him, stabbing a finger at his chest. Trump found her rude and presumptuous. 'She got in my personal space,' he told aides afterward. 'Big mistake.' ....The White House political director Bill Stepien ... asked an intern to aggregate a full record of everything Black had ever said about Trump, good and bad. The list was printed out and carried over to the Oval Office.

Trump scanned the document, picking out the negative remarks, then pulled out a Sharpie. 'Diane,' he wrote. 'This is NOT good!' He furiously underlined the word 'NOT,' then asked Stepien to hand-deliver the document to Black.

[Note: Black lost in the Republican primary race.]"

2. The tormenting of Erik Paulsen

"In one case, Trump endorsed as a means of punishment. Having heard that Minnesota congressman Erik Paulsen was distancing himself from the White House in the hope of holding his seat in the Twin Cities' suburbs, the president stewed and asked that the political shop send a tweet of support for Paulsen — thereby sabotaging the moderate Republican's efforts.

When his aides demurred, Trump sent the tweet himself, issuing a 'Strong Endorsement!' of the congressman in a late-night post that left Paulsen fuming and his Democratic opponent giddy. [Note: Paulsen lost his re-elect.]"

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”