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Since Jan. 6 attack, Trump's grip on the GOP has only grown stronger

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.
President Trump arrives to speak to supporters near the White House on January 6, 2021.Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — More than six months after Jan. 6 — and after all of the reporting on that day — Donald Trump’s hold over the Republican Party hasn’t gotten weaker.

It’s only grown stronger.

In Oklahoma, the state GOP chair is backing a primary challenge to the reliably conservative sitting Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. Lankford’s sin: refusing to reject the Electoral College count on Jan. 6.

In Alaska, the state party has endorsed challenger Kelly Tshibaka over Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Murkowski voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial.

In Ohio, the candidates vying to fill the open Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has turned into a contest over who can hug Trump the hardest, with newly minted candidate J.D. Vance even deleting his 2016 tweet saying he was voting against Trump.

And yesterday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. — who is eyeing becoming speaker — traveled to New Jersey to meet with Trump, as McCarthy considers which GOP members to appoint to the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6.

“Much to discuss!” Trump said in a statement yesterday first revealing the news of his meeting with McCarthy.

McCarthy released a statement last night, per NBC’s Garrett Haake: “I enjoyed meeting with President Trump today. We discussed House Republicans’ record fundraising, upcoming congressional special elections and vulnerable Democrats.” McCarthy made no mention of the Jan. 6 committee.

Six months later, we’ve come a long way since sitting GOP senators were saying that Trump “bears responsibility” for the Jan. 6 attack; since Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said “count me out, enough is enough”; and since McCarthy was saying Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 deserved congressional investigation and even a censure resolution.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

$120 billion: The amount allocated for sweeping immigration changes in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget measure, per new reporting from NBC’s Sahil Kapur and Julia Ainsley.

9: The number of people, including Rep. Joyce Beatty, who were arrested at a voting rights protest on Capitol Hill yesterday.

10: The number of family members Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he has lost to Covid-19.

At least 95: The number of people dead as floods sweep across Western Europe.

34,132,692: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 39,452 more than yesterday morning.)

611,583: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 238 more since yesterday morning.)

388,738,495: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC.

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

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

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ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Something to watch: Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s term expires in 2022.

Los Angeles County is reinstating its mask mandate indoors, even for vaccinated people.

Biden gave a sendoff last night to departing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Texas Democrats are running into a problem on Capitol Hill: Democrats are distracted by other agenda items.

The “Free Britney” push is gaining bipartisan allies on Capitol Hill.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be questioned in a probe of sexual harassment allegations.

Richard Grenell won’t run in the California recall election after all.