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Photo: Samuel Corum-Pool/Getty Images

The Republican battle lines being formed in President Trump's final days — his loyalists vs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's establishment — will shape American politics for the next four years. 

Why it matters: This power struggle will help define everything from the future of conservatism and right-wing media to President-elect Biden’s ability to win Republican cooperation in office. More broadly and more importantly, the outcome will determine if Trumpism — and its norm-smashing tactics — come to permanently define one of America's two major political parties.

The camps are clear as we begin this epic political month:

  • The Trump camp includes House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, the 12 senators and 140+ House members who plan a futile fight Wednesday against certification of Biden’s victory. That group includes GOP 2024 hopefuls, including Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
  • With Trump out of office, McConnell will be the GOP’s de facto leader, backed by Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and other establishment types who don't have to worry about primary challenges from the right, where Trump has shown he’s willing to play a decisive role.

Look for McCarthy to straddle the camps.

  • So will Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, primed for a 2024 presidential run. Cotton, a vocal Trump ally, announced last night that he won't join the protest: "[O]bjecting to certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term."

Between the lines: Some top Republicans tell us this split will blur. McConnell is unlikely to chart a true separation, and will do plenty for Trumpy Republicans in coming years.

  • McConnell has greater street cred with the base than he did a few years ago, after helping Trump seat three justices on the Supreme Court.

🥊 Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2012, who has said little since leaving office, issued a scathing statement about the lawmakers' planned resistance:

It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections.
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Go deeper

Updated Jan 24, 2021 - 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.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.