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Expand chart
Data: Axios research; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Donald Trump is using the power of his endorsement not only to punish "disloyal" House Republicans but reward members of the chamber's most conservative Republican groups.

Why it matters: The former president's support for more than 20 incumbent re-election bids highlights his efforts to reshape the House Republican conference in his image, through midterms that could thrust the GOP back into power a year from now.

  • That would stymie Democrat-led investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump's own presidency.
  • It also would boost his own potential presidential campaign in 2024.

The Republican Study Committee, a conservative group boasting a membership of three-quarters of all House Republicans, has proved a guide for Trump’s endorsements.

  • Nearly all the House incumbents he’s endorsed are members of the group.
  • The powerful group often dictates the tenor of the conference's messaging. Its chair, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), has sketched out an electoral strategy for the GOP.
  • It involves courting Trump voters some Republicans find "distasteful."

A third of recipients also are members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, whose scorched-earth tactics have made it a natural ally for Trump.

Just one Trump endorsee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), is a member of the Governance Group.

  • The group's leader, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), drew Trump’s wrath by voting to impeach him in January; McCaul also is a member of the Republican Study Committee.
  • Trump hasn't endorsed any members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans that backed the $1.9 trillion infrastructure package.
  • The former president has derisively dubbed it the “Unfrastructure Bill."
  • Trump has gone so far as to openly solicit challenges against Republicans who voted for impeachment and the infrastructure bill, on Monday encouraging a primary challenge against Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). He voted for the bill but not impeachment.

In a snub of House Democrats’ reprisals, as well as a show of his priorities, Trump has issued endorsements for some of the House’s most prominent right-wing provocateurs at the height of their controversy.

  • He endorsed Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) a day after the House passed an anti-Islamophobia bill widely viewed as a rebuke of her inflammatory rhetoric toward Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
  • Trump also endorsed Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
  • That too came a day after the House censured him and stripped him of his committee assignments for posting an anime video depicting violence against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). and President Biden.

Flashback: Trump has already thrown his political power behind right-wing House insurgents challenging “disloyal” Republicans, as Axios reported.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill but not the impeachment of former President Trump.

Go deeper

Democratic retirements spark worry over holding House majority

Expand chart
Data: House Press Gallery; Table: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) is the latest lawmaker to announce that he will not seek re-election this year, bringing the total number of Democratic retirements to 26, compared with 14 Republicans.

Why it matters: The increasing number of Democratic retirements — put against the backdrop of President Biden's sagging approval ratings and uncertainty about redistricting — is adding to concerns the party may not be able to keep its slim majority in the House.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement on Sunday.

State of play: All four hostages were safely released after the day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

  • "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.
  • Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Driving the news: The Colleyville Police Department said in a statement nearly an hour after the synagogue's 10 a.m. CST Shabbat services began that officers arrived on the scene and "observed an emergency situation that warranted an evacuation of the surrounding areas."

  • The FBI's Dallas Field Office, including crisis negotiators, and Texas Department of Public Safety worked alongside local authorities as the situation unfolded, according to CPD.
  • Abbott tweeted around 9:30 p.m. CST, "Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe."

Matt DeSarno, the special agent in charge at the FBI's Dallas Field Office, said Saturday night that the suspect was focused on "one issue that was not specifically threatening to the Jewish community."

  • According to Texas Department of Public Safety, the suspect said he wanted to see Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, who is serving an 86-year sentence nearby. Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 for assaulting U.S. federal agents, employees and nationals in Afghanistan.

"We strongly condemn the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX," Siddiqui's attorney Marwa Elbially, said in a statement earlier on Saturday, per CNN. "We implore the hostage taker to immediately release all hostages and turn himself in."

  • "We want to verify that the perpetrator is NOT Dr. Aafia's brother who is a respected architect and member of the community. Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family," the statement continued.

What they're saying: "Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families," President Biden said in a statement.

  • "We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community," Biden added.
  • "There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country."

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.