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With Liz Cheney's imminent ouster, the GOP's surrender to Trump is complete

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: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) Travels To Wyoming For Rally Against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney
A man holds up a sign against Rep. Liz Cheney as Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks to a crowd during a rally against her on January 28, 2021 in Cheyenne, Wyo.Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Republicans blame Liz Cheney for dividing the GOP, saying she’s preventing the party from having a unified message and from focusing on the 2022 midterms.

“Combating Joe Biden. … That's the message we should be talking about. I haven't heard members concerned about [Cheney’s] vote on impeachment, it's more concerned about the job ability to do and what's our best step forward that we can all work together instead of attacking one another,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on “Fox” this week.

But Liz Cheney isn’t the one searching for bamboo fibers in Arizona, or blaming Mike Pence for losing the White House, or pointing the finger at Mitch McConnell over losing control of the U.S. Senate or still insisting the GOP won the 2020 presidential election.

That person is Donald Trump.

We’ve written a lot about how Trump continues to drive and influence the Republican Party, despite no longer holding office, despite declining poll numbers and despite no longer holding social-media megaphones on Facebook and Twitter.

But this week feels … different. It appears to represent the party’s 100 percent surrender to Trump, a surrender to his lie that he won the 2020 election, and a surrender to his insistence that all GOP critics must be purged.

And as we said earlier this week, it’s an ominous development for democracy when the people who are paying a political price are the ones who have told the truth about the 2020 election, who did their jobs in administering the election and who remain haunted by what happened on Jan. 6.

The person who still hasn’t paid a price — even after losing office, even after a second impeachment — is the former president.

What Trump said on January 6

For all of the attention on Facebook’s oversight board upholding its ban on Trump, as well as asking Facebook to revisit the ban in six months, what’s gotten lost is its description of how Trump used the platform on Jan. 6:

“The Board found that the two posts by Mr. Trump on January 6 severely violated Facebook’s Community Standards and Instagram’s Community Guidelines. ‘We love you. You’re very special’ in the first post and ‘great patriots’ and ‘remember this day forever’ in the second post violated Facebook’s rules prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence.”

“The Board found that, in maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible. At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions. As president, Mr. Trump had a high level of influence. The reach of his posts was large, with 35 million followers on Facebook and 24 million on Instagram.”

“Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7.”

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Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

54 percent: The share of public elementary and middle schools offering full-time classroom learning to any student who wants it, per a new Department of Education study.

32,714,193: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 46,239 more than yesterday morning.)

583,293: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 584 more than yesterday morning.

249,566,820: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

29.8 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s who’s backing Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney.

What might be next for Cheney in Wyoming?

Could Democrats actually get traction in Missouri?

Trump is lashing out at social media companies after Facebook upheld its ban on him — for now.

The Arizona audit continues, although Democrats won some concessions in their latest challenge.

Democrats are making tweaks to their proposed sweeping federal elections legislation.

Biden is again leaning in to his proposals to tax the rich.