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Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told Axios' Mike Allen in an interview with "Axios on HBO" that he believes Republican lawmakers stay quiet on their Trump criticisms for fear of losing the Senate or the presidency to Democrats, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The big picture: Republicans are often willing to criticize the president privately, but they avoid making public statements for fear of backlash. Romney argues that conservatives are trying to maintain the perception of a united front to voters so as not to risk internal shakeups that could lose them the Senate or Oval Office.

  • Warren has also been rising in the polls, challenging polling leader Joe Biden and bringing progressive policies to the forefront of the Democratic primaries.

Romney told "Axios on HBO":

  • "There's no upside in going on out and attacking the leader of your party, 'cause that's just gonna let someone come in and primary you on the right. So people want to hang onto their job."
  • "But there's another reason, which is more elevated. And that is people ... genuinely believe, as I do, that conservative principles are better for our country and for the working people of our country than liberal principles and that if Elizabeth Warren were to become president, for instance, or if we were to lose the Senate, that it would not be good for the American people."
  • "And they don't want to do something which makes it more likely for Elizabeth Warren to become president or for us to lose the Senate. So they don't want to go out and criticize the leader of our party because they feel that might have the consequence of hurting our country longer term."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

How the Delta variant ups the stakes in the war against COVID

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The dominant Delta variant's ability to efficiently infect people and rapidly grow inside a person is enabling the coronavirus to regain its footing in the United States.

Why it matters: "The solution is right in front of us — get everybody vaccinated and we wouldn't even be talking about this," NIAID director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.

Apple debuts plan to detect images of child sexual abuse

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Apple announced new iPhone features Thursday that it said would enable the detection and reporting of illegal images of child sexual abuse while preserving users' privacy.

Driving the news: One new system will use cryptographic hashes to identify illegal images that users are uploading to Apple's iCloud without Apple directly snooping in users' troves of photos, which can be encrypted.

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, Calif., was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The big picture: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze and the sixth-largest wildfire in state history, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County.