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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:

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
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Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.