IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Eight months after Jan. 6 attack, Trump remains in full control of the GOP

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.
Former President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he walks off after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas on July 11, 2021.
Former President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he walks off after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas on July 11, 2021.Andy Jacobsohn / AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — There’s new fencing around the U.S. Capitol as Washington, D.C. braces for another pro-Trump rally this weekend.

The former president released a statement Thursday defending the Jan. 6 rioters, with no objection coming from prominent Republicans. (“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly,” Trump said.)

The GOP nominee in Virginia’s gubernatorial race didn’t really distance himself from Trump in last night’s debate — in a state Trump lost by 10 points in 2020.

And then later last night, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump — Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio — announced he won’t seek re-election next year.

That’s the situation, in D.C. and inside the GOP, eight months after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and since Trump’s second impeachment.

Trump is still winning the fight for the Republican Party’s heart and soul after his presidential defeat a year ago.

The former president’s hold over the GOP even extends to next year’s Senate races, where Trump continues to inject himself into the key contests of Georgia, Arizona and now New Hampshire.

And how Trump continues to win is that he outlasts his opposition.

Or makes life so miserable for opponents that they eventually give in — or give up.

“Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” Rep. Gonzalez told the New York Times about his decision not to seek re-election. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”

More Gonzalez: “This is the direction that we’re going to go in for the next two years and potentially four, and it’s going to make Trump the center of fund-raising efforts and political outreach,” he said. “That’s not something I’m going to be part of.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

$55 million: How much Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has banked away for his upcoming election, as his rivals still mount long-shot primary challenges against him.

3 percentage points: The increase in childhood obesity over the last year, per a new CDC study.

More than 9,000: The number of migrants who are being held at a temporary camp under a bridge in south Texas after a quick influx of arrivals.

41,848,197: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 176,048 more since yesterday morning.)

674,124: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 3,509 more since yesterday morning.)

383,038,403: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 743,608 more since yesterday morning.)

54.2 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

65.4 percent: The share of all U.S. adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

McAuliffe, Youngkin slug it out in first debate

In their combative first debate in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin engaged in sharp exchanges over vaccine mandates and abortion.

“McAuliffe described a nurse treating a cancer patient and asked Youngkin if he thought the nurse should be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to protect the life of the patient," the Washington Post writes. "Youngkin said he hoped the nurse would choose to get vaccinated. ‘My opponent wants to mandate,’ he said. ‘I respect your ability to make decisions.’”

On abortion, “McAuliffe … said that he supports a woman's right to an abortion through the second trimester and that he would like to enshrine Roe v. Wade in the state constitution… [Moderator Susan] Page pressed Youngkin on a six-week bill with exceptions, and Youngkin again declined to answer directly, but said he believed in a ‘pain-threshold bill.’”

By the way, early in-person voting begins today in Virginia.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

An FDA panel meets today to vote on Pfizer’s booster shot application.

A federal judge is halting the Biden administration’s attempt to remove migrant families on the border with Mexico because of a public health order.

The special counsel appointed by President Donald Trump’s Justice Department to probe the Russia investigation has charged a prominent Democratic lawyer with making a false statement to the FBI.

Iowa’s redistricting board has proposed a new map that could overhaul the state’s congressional delegation.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is discussing a bid for governor.

France is furious at a new U.S. security alliance with Australia and Britain.