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Cracks in the GOP over Trump are beginning to 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.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump arrives for a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on July 21, 2020.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Last Friday, we told you a significant divide existed between the pro-Trump and the pro-party wings of the GOP.

And on Tuesday, that divide became evident for all of Washington to see, when pro-Trump House conservatives went after Liz Cheney, the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership.

Over, in part, Cheney’s support for Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., later Tuesday called on Cheney to resign or ‘be removed’ as the House Republican Conference chair. As chair, Cheney is the sole female member of the House GOP leadership,” NBC’s Kasie Hunt writes.

“Gaetz's tweet quickly received support from other prominent Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who compared Cheney to Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the only GOP senator to vote to convict Trump during his impeachment trial.”

And it’s not just Gaetz vs. Liz Cheney.

It’s the clash between the White House and Senate Republicans over what should be in the next round of coronavirus-relief stimulus — before we even get to the Democrats’ demands.

And it’s Allen West — yes, that Allen West — becoming the new chair of the Texas Republican Party, in a state that’s becoming more problematic for the GOP.

"There are three words I hate to hear used: I hate 'big tent.' I hate 'inclusiveness.' And I hate 'outreach,'" West said, according to the Almanac of American Politics, per the Texas Tribune. "I think you stand on the principles that make you great, which transcend everybody in America, and people will come to it."

President Trump deliberately remade the Republican Party in his own image. And the question becomes: What happens to the GOP when he’s no longer president — either after November or after 2024?

Remember, Allen West and his politics existed before Trump became president.

Romancing the Tone

On Tuesday — five months since the coronavirus pandemic became a crisis inside the United States – President Trump finally admitted reality.

“It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better — something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” he said.

But as NBC’s Kristen Welker reported on “TODAY” this morning, Trump didn’t answer an important question in his admission: What comes next?

What’s the best way to combat the virus and avoid future outbreaks?

What does getting “worse before it gets better” mean for the schools that Trump wants to reopen?

Did Trump’s desire to reopen the country — before it was ready — make things worse?

And what is he doing today to take on the coronavirus?

In fact, his public schedule has nothing related to the coronavirus.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

3,909,514: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 54,359 more cases than yesterday morning.)

142,959: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 993 more than yesterday morning.)

47.22 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

7,000: The number of QAnon accounts that Twitter has banned as part of a larger crackdown on the conspiracy theory’s social media users

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Biden’s and Obama’s socially distant conversation

The Biden campaign has released a video of former President Barack Obama and his vice president — Biden — having a socially distant conversation, NBC’s Mike Memoli reports.

The video was recorded earlier this month in Washington, D.C., and the full video will come out Thursday.

But here’s the excerpt the Biden camp released:

Biden: "Can you imagine standing up when you were president and saying 'it's not my responsibility. I take no responsibility.' Literally. Literally.”

Obama: "Those words didn’t come out of our mouths while we were in office.”

Biden: "No. I don't understand his inability to get a sense of what people are going through. He just can’t — he can't relate in any way.”

Obama: "Well, and one of the things I have always known about you Joe, it's the reason I wanted you to be my vice president, and the reason why you were so all starts with being able to relate. If you can sit down with a family and see your own family in them, and the struggles that you’ve gone through or your parents went through or your kids are going through, if you can connect those struggles to somebody else’s struggles, then you’re going to work hard for them. And that’s always what’s motivated you to get into public service.”


It’s unlikely there will be enacted coronavirus relief before key programs expire, given Senate Republicans’ slow negotiations on Capitol Hill.

Per NBC’s Capitol Hill team, the White House is still demanding a payroll tax cut, as well as a cut in funding to coronavirus testing. The one area of agreement seems to be around the decision to not extend the weekly $600 federal unemployment benefit that millions of Americans are collecting. But before the caucus can argue with the White House’s tax cut and test funding demands, they have to get on the same page with each other – and some Republicans have said they will not support any new spending at all (like Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will be introducing a bill in the next few days that “enjoys fairly significant support among Republican senators.”

But with so much up in the air, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may have summed it up best when, according a Republican source familiar with his remarks, asked his caucus, "What the hell are we doing?" You can read more about the Senate Republicans’ negotiations here.

The Lid: A change is gonna come

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we sifted through some of the most important findings from our NBC/WSJ poll questions on race and discrimination.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Trump reportedly asked the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. to look into getting the British Open for his Scotland golf resort.

Things are getting pretty heated with Senate Republicans arguing over coronavirus relief.

Democrats are eyeing a new party platform.

Climate activists are sizing up Joe Biden’s plan for clean energy.

Here’s the latest on the standoff in Portland between protestors and federal law enforcement.

State officials want to speed up the process to count mail-in ballots.

The speaker of the Ohio State House has been arrested in what agents call the “largest bribery scheme” in state history.

The Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t want a singular leader. Politico looks at why.

The New York Times traces Andrew Gillum’s rise and fall.