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Republican civil war

Republican civil war

"There's no question, none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking" the January 6 Capitol building riot. That attack was the "foreseeable consequence of the crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on the Earth."

So said Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, US Senate Republican leader since 2006, just after voting last Saturday to acquit the president of high crimes and misdemeanors following Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

On Tuesday, Trump punched back. "Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again." On Thursday, the pro-Trump chairman of Kentucky's Republican Party called on McConnell to resign as Republican leader.

The battle is joined.


Trump remains a powerful political force. Even in defeat, he won 74 million votes for president last year, the second highest total of any candidate in US history. Even after two impeachments, some 75 percent of Republican voters said in a recent poll that they want him to continue to "play a prominent role in the Republican Party," and 87 percent say he should be allowed to "hold elected office in the future." Trump may not have Twitter, but he has many other available megaphones in social media and cable TV. He will not be silenced.

What does this mean for the party? The GOP has descended into an all-out civil war that will rage in plain sight for years to come. McConnell and his allies have weapons too. They can help direct large amounts of campaign cash toward the establishment-friendly Republican candidates they believe stand the best chance of beating Democrats in the 2022 midterms, and if the party regains its Senate majority, McConnell will again control the legislative agenda. Trump, in turn, will barnstorm across the country in support of insurgent candidates who distinguish themselves mainly by their fealty to him and their commitment to continuous culture war combat.

The first GOP civil war battle will be waged later this year in Virginia's gubernatorial election, where leading Republican candidates include a long-time state legislator, a business executive, and a pro-Trump firebrand who spoke at the January 6 rally that triggered the Capitol insurrection and has publicly hailed the rioters as "patriots."

Then we move to the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans need a net gain of five seats to win back a majority in the House of Representatives and of just one to reclaim the Senate. In state after state, Trump insurgents will face off with establishment Republicans.

No major American political party has faced an internal fight of this magnitude and consequence in more than a century.

Trump's legal troubles will up the stakes. He'll likely face a series of legal challenges in coming months over his business affairs, charges that he tried to overturn the election result in particular states, and possibly criminal responsibility for the Capitol rampage. That story will remain in the news all year as more than 140 of the rioters now face federal charges and more will likely follow. Trump will use Republican responses to these courtroom dramas as litmus tests of loyalty to his vision of the party's future.

He may also threaten to sink the GOP by forming a third party. In a poll conducted last month, 64 percent of registered Republican voters said they would "likely" follow Trump if he does, and 32 percent said they'd be "very likely."

Will there be a winner in this civil war? The first clue will come in the 2022 midterms, when the GOP candidates who survive primary battles face Republican, Democratic, and independent voters. The results of those races will tell us what kind of candidate will carry the Republican banner forward into the 2024 presidential election and what kind of party the GOP will become.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

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In the fall of 2019, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world, Ian Bremmer asked Dr. Fauci what kept him up at night and he described a "a pandemic-like respiratory infection." Fast-forward to late February 2021 and Dr. Fauci tells Ian, "I think we are living through much of that worst nightmare." Dr. Fauci returns to GZERO World to take stock of the nightmare year and to paint a picture of what the end of the pandemic could look like—and when it could finally arrive.

Catch the full episode of GZERO World, where Dr. Fauci discusses the latest in vaccine roll out, schools re-openings, and plenty more, on US public television stations nationwide, beginning Friday, February 26. Check local listings.

Egypt and Sudan want some dam help: Cairo and Khartoum have called on the US, EU, and UN to intervene in their ongoing dispute with neighboring Ethiopia over that country's construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the Nile. Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream of Ethiopia and worry about their farmers losing water, want binding targets and dispute resolution mechanisms, while Ethiopia, which sees the dam as a critical piece of its economic future, wants more flexibility and has given little ground in talks. Efforts by the African Union to mediate have failed as Ethiopia presses ahead with filling the dam even after being sanctioned by the Trump administration last year for doing so. The dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as it is called, has threatened to spill into military conflict at several points in recent years. Can the "international community" turn things around?

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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