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Jan. 6 continues to stain GOP, text messages show

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Mark Meadows at the White House on Oct. 30, 2020 in Washington.
Mark Meadows at the White House on Oct. 30, 2020 in Washington.Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Wednesday … Congressional negotiators reach  a deal on framework to fund government. ... Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell attributes midterm losses to “candidate quality” problems of Trump-backed nominees. ... President Biden hosts U.S.-Africa summit and addresses the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. ... Scientists, U.S. officials celebrate fusion breakthrough. ... And it was 10 years ago today when the tragic Newtown, Conn., school shooting took place.

But first: The text messages that Republican members of Congress sent to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 presidential election are simply jaw-dropping. 

Here are some of those Meadows text messages turned over to the Jan. 6 committee that Talking Points Memo published(though NBC News has not been able to review): 

"Mark, When we lose Trump we lose our Republic. Fight like hell and find a way. We’re with you down here in Texas and refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship. Liberty! Babin"

(Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, Nov. 6, 2020 — one day before the networks projected Biden as the presidential winner; Babin and his office didn’t respond to TPM’s requests for comment.)

"On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence."

(Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Jan 5. 2021; Jordan’s communications director told TPM that Jordan was relaying a theory from a former DOD inspector general.)

"Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of no return in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!"

(Rep. Ralph Norman R-S.C., Jan. 17, 2021 — three days before Biden was inaugurated; Norman didn’t respond to TPM to explain that message.)

One of these members (Norman) belongs to the “Never Kevin Caucus” working to deny Kevin McCarthy the speakership; another member (Jordan) is likely to be chair of the House Judiciary Committee; all three voted to object to the Electoral College results. 

In all, these texts — as well as the others that TPM published — represent an indelible stain on the incoming House GOP majority.

Photo of the Day: 10 years later

The memorial honors the twenty children and six educators who were victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on the morning of December 14, 2012.
People gather around the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 13, 2022. Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images

Today marks 10 years since 20 first graders and six educators were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. A memorial opened in November ahead of this month’s anniversary. 

Data Download: The number of the day is … 199

That’s how many candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump won their races in November, while 34 of Trump’s preferred candidates lost, per an analysis from the NBC News political unit. The NBC News Decision Desk did not project winners in 33 races featuring Trump-backed candidates. On Monday, the Decision Desk called the final outstanding House race of 2022, meaning there is now a clear picture of how Trump’s preferred candidates fared in the midterms. 

While Trump’s win record may appear overwhelming at first glance, his record becomes much more mixed with the context that most Trump-backed candidates were not in competitive races, in part because many of his preferred candidates were incumbents in deeply Republican areas. 

Looking just at contests deemed competitive by the NBC News Political Unit, based on political dynamics of those races and ad spending, 46 of Trump’s candidates won, and 33 lost. Of the 33 who lost, 32 of them echoed Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. 

Other numbers to know:

More than $8 billion: How much the CFTC estimates customers lost through FTX, whose founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was charged with eight counts related to alleged conspiracy and wire fraud. 

2.4 million: The number of asylum-seekers turned back to Mexico since Title 42 restrictions were instituted at the border. 

7.1%: The latest year-over-year increase in the consumer price index, a slowdown from past months even as it remains historically high. 

192: The number of lasers used in a nuclear fusion breakthrough at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

17: The number of inmates on death row whose sentences were commuted by outgoing Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown

65%: The share of Americans in a new LX News/Morning Consult poll who say they are satisfied with Iowa and New Hampshire’s first positions on the presidential primary calendar. 

$2 billion: The amount being demanded in a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the platform of playing a role to increase political violence in Africa.

3,500: The minimum number of deaths caused by or affected by long Covid, according to a CDC analysis reported by the New York Times.

Eyes on 2024: Feinstein says she has no plans to step down 

Democrats already expect to be on defense with the 2024 Senate map, but one deep-blue state could hold a unique question mark: California. 

It’s still unclear whether California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, will retire at the end of 2024. But she told the Los Angeles Times this week that she will “absolutely” serve out the rest of her term. 

“There’s still two years, you know. A lot can happen in two years,” before adding she’ll announce whether she’ll seek another term sometime this spring. 

“The senator has no plans to step down and will announce her plans for 2024 at the appropriate time,” a spokesman told the paper.

If the seat opens up next cycle, either by a Feinstein resigning or retiring, expect a mad dash for the seat between many members of California’s Democratic bench. 

In other 2024 news:

Commonwealth campaign: February’s special election to fill Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District gives a new generation of Black Democrats an opportunity. 

Blame game: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented his party’s “candidate quality” in the midterms, insinuating that former President Donald Trump’s endorsements helped the party fall short in key states. 

Covid politics: Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ hard-right push for a grand jury related to Covid vaccines and potential side effects is the latest way the governor has positioned himself to the right of Trump on the issue

Asa weighs next move: Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told the Associated Press that he plans to make a decision about running for president in early 2023. Hutchinson didn’t rule out supporting Trump if he’s the GOP nominee, but called that possibility “the worst scenario.”

Arizona Senate: Democratic senators are dodging questions about whether they’d support Sen. Kyrsten Sinema if she runs for re-election in 2024 now that she’s become an independent, the Washington Post reports.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law on Tuesday, codifying protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers released a new bill that would ban TikTok over concerns about its ties to China. 

The war in Ukraine could hinge on whichever side could produce or procure the most heavy artillery