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

Trump's GOP foes keep being punished — by their own party

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: Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney walks through the Capitol after President Biden's address to congress on April 28, 2021.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Republicans who have defended the integrity of the 2020 election results — or who have spoken out against Donald Trump and his actions that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — keep on getting punished inside the Republican Party.

That’s maybe the best way to view the recent news about Mitt Romney getting booed in his home state of Utah before the state party failed to censure him, and Liz Cheney now being on thin ice within the House GOP leadership — and possibly at risk of losing her job as conference chair.

They follow the censures and primary challenges against other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump or convict him of inciting the Jan. 6, as well as the move by Georgia Republicans to strip Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of some of his powers.

And it’s an ominous development for a democracy when saying this gets you in trouble with your own party: "We can't embrace the notion the election is stolen. It's a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy," Cheney said yesterday in a closed-door speech, per CNN (and confirmed by NBC News). "We can't whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump's big lie.”

What’s more, the same Trump story dating back to “Access Hollywood” keeps on repeating itself: Trump and his supporters fight back harder than any other side; a majority or more of the party stays silent in an effort to win the next election; and the critics get drowned out and later punished — if they don’t first reverse course and hope Trump’s base doesn’t notice. (See Graham, Lindsey.)

Wash, rinse, repeat.

But this time, it’s all to placate someone who lost in 2020, who divided the party during those twin Senate runoffs in Georgia that the GOP lost, and whose poll numbers remain upside down with the American public.

By the way, we have to ask: What changed for Cheney since her conference overwhelmingly defeated that previous effort to oust her from party leadership?

Was it that Trump and his supporters kept up their attacks against her?

Or that she kept on criticizing the former president — and refused to stay silent?

What happens if Trump gets his social media megaphone back?

Speaking of Republicans trying to compartmentalize the former president — and focus instead on 2022 or 2024 — this is all happening in an environment where Trump no longer has his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

But what happens if Facebook reinstates Trump, and all of Trump’s declarations get a lot more attention?

It becomes a lot harder to compartmentalize him.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

62,500: The Biden administration’s new cap on refugees for this fiscal year — after it was criticized for saying it would keep Trump-era limits in place.

27 years: How long Bill and Melinda Gates have been married. The couple announced their divorce on Monday.

More than 20 million: The number of coronavirus cases in India

32,624,945: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 49,511 more than yesterday morning.)

581,762: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 551 more than yesterday morning.)

246,780,203: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

29.3 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated

Biden to speak on vaccinations

At 2:30 p.m. ET today from the White House, President Biden delivers remarks on the country’s vaccination effort against the coronavirus.

Tweet of the day

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

What’s next for Liz Cheney? (And what job might Rep. Jim Banks be eying?)

The AP: “[T]he nation’s top general says he is dropping his opposition to a proposal to take decisions on sexual assault prosecution out of the hands of commanders.”

The FDA may authorize the use of the Pfizer vaccine for kids as young as 12 by next week.

Conservatives are newly focused on concerns about “critical race theory” in American education.

Rich Cordray will oversee federal student loans.

Caitlyn Jenner is doing a big TV sit-down with … Sean Hannity.