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Before Donald Trump canceled his planned Jan. 6 press conference, several key allies — including hardline Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — made clear they thought it was a bad idea to invite the national media to Mar-a-Lago to mark the deadly riot.

Why it matters: Trump would have inevitably used his press conference Thursday to portray the rioters as political prisoners, whitewash their actions that day and lie about a "stolen election."

  • Divisions had widened between the former president and congressional Republican leaders over how to handle the anniversary.
  • Trump — like his most fervent allies — wanted to go on offense.
  • Congressional leaders wanted to narrowly condemn the rioters, avoid criticizing Trump or assigning any responsibility to him and quickly pivot to attacking Democrats over their handling of the Jan. 6 investigation.

House and Senate leaders had no involvement in planning Trump's event — which they viewed as a political headache.

  • They were quietly relieved when they saw his statement Tuesday evening announcing he was canceling the press conference.
  • The withdrawal leaves Steve Bannon and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) as perhaps the only high-profile Trump allies willing to go on the offense through media appearances Thursday.

Behind the scenes: Graham, a frequent phone and golfing buddy of Trump, was one of those who urged him to cancel the press conference.

  • Graham confirmed this to Axios during a phone interview Tuesday night, saying he discussed the subject with Trump over a weekend golf match in West Palm Beach.
  • Graham said Trump brought up the subject and the senator told him "there could be peril in doing a news conference. ... Best to focus on election reform instead."

Ingraham, another influential Trump ally, strongly signaled during her show Monday night she thought Trump shouldn't hold a press conference on Jan. 6.

  • She asked Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) a leading question: "Some things were horrific that happened and shouldn't have happened that day. ... Is it smart for President Trump to do a rally on that particular day, versus next week or the week before?"
  • Banks notably declined the opportunity to publicly advise Trump against doing the event. His answer highlights the stance that nearly all elected Republicans take on any matter involving Trump: total embrace.

What they're saying: Banks told Ingraham he "welcome[s]" Trump doing the press conference.

  • "President Trump has important things to say on Thursday, on Jan. 6," Banks said.
  • "Like so many others, I'm looking forward to hearing what President Trump has to say."

Go deeper

Avenatti names Trump in $94M claim alleging harsh jail treatment

Lawyer Michael Avenatti outside federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., last July. Photo: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michael Avenatti alleges in a new filing with the Federal Bureau of Prisons that he endured "brutal" jail conditions in "retaliation" for criticizing former President Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr.

Why it matters: Avenatti, who gained notoriety as adult film actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer in lawsuits against former President Trump and was later convicted in a Nike extortion case, is seeking $94 million in damages, per Law & Crime. Barr told the New York Times Avenatti's claims were "ridiculous."

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

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