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The Memo: Trump election loss roils right

President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report MORE’s loss in the 2020 election — and his continued attempts to pretend it didn’t happen — are throwing the Republican Party and the broader forces of conservatism into turmoil.

The split is between those who are maintaining loyalty toward Trump as he fights on, and those who are becoming more assertive about saying it’s all over.

On Monday, Trump suffered more setbacks.

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Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers voted 3-0, with one Republican abstention, to certify the state’s results. President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Fauci infuriated by threats to family MORE won the Wolverine State by more than 150,000 votes but Trump and his allies had sought to push back against certification.

More GOP senators also broke with Trump on Monday.

Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-W.Va.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' MORE (R-Ohio) in effect acknowledged Biden as president-elect.

Yet theirs remains a minority position in the GOP Senate conference, at least in public. And that underlines how turbulent the cross-currents are on the right.

On one hand, Trump is falsely claiming to have won an election he lost, and his refusal to comply with the normal transition process is disrupting democratic norms.

The longer his refusal lasts, the more it threatens to cause turbulence in the nation’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, in the financial markets and, potentially, in the realm of national security.

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On the other hand, Trump received around 74 million votes. Anyone on the right, whether in politics or among conservative media, knows that breaking from the president is guaranteed to spark the ire of his supporters, whose fervency is undimmed. 

Among Republican voters, Trump is far and away the dominant national figure. Then there is the question of his ongoing influence on conservative politics to consider — an influence that could easily extend to another bid for the presidency in 2024, or a “kingmaker” role in that year’s GOP primary.

Put it all together, and the picture is one in which Trump’s once iron grip on the right has loosened but has not broken.

Susan Del Percio, a Republican strategist and critic of the president, noted that many GOP elected officials were staying on the sidelines even now. 

“But to what end? Do they want to just wait another week or two until it all falls out? Are they ever going to admit [the result]? Of course they are, Trump is going to leave,” Del Percio said. “But a president still has a lot of power in the last months. He could do a lot of favors or — more likely with this president — could do a lot of things against people who he perceives went against him.”

Two of the three senators to break with Trump Monday — Alexander and Capito — issued statements while Portman wrote an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer in which he called for a smooth transition. “The initial determination showing Joe Biden with enough electoral votes to win has not changed,” he noted.

Alexander, Capito and Portman join five other GOP senators who have, in one way or another, acknowledged Biden’s victory: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Murkowski didn't vote for Trump, won't join Democrats Trump impeachment article being sent to Senate Monday MORE (Alaska), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (Utah), Ben SasseBen SasseRepublican senators and courage The next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE (Neb.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (Pa.).

But the bulk of Republican elected officials, who are silent or supportive of Trump’s attempts to overturn the election result, presumably believe the president still wields enough power to make crossing him a bad idea.

There is also the media to consider. 

Even radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh — a staunch Trump supporter and sometime golf partner of the president — on Monday criticized a news conference Trump’s legal team held last week. 

“They promised blockbuster stuff and then nothing happened. And that’s just, it’s not good,” he told his listeners.

When Fox News Channel’s Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden EPA asks Justice Dept. to pause defense of Trump-era rules | Company appeals rejection of Pebble Mine | Energy pick Granholm to get hearing Wednesday Company appeals rejection of controversial Pebble Mine  McConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism MORE expressed skepticism about claims made by then-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell last week, however, he drew opprobrium from Trump supporters on social media. 

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Fox News itself is increasingly in Trump’s crosshairs for what he deems insufficient loyalty. 

But he is no longer able to keep everyone on board.

“Some of the conservative media, who were true believers, see what they think is the writing on the wall,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communication, “Trump lost, he has used up most of his challenges, and now do you want to go down with the ship? Or, if you are one of those pundits, do you want to try to be part of the next act for the conservative Republican Party.” 

Trump’s refusal to cede power is also increasingly roiling the business community.

On Monday, a public letter from more than 160 business leaders in Trump’s native New York called for him to move ahead with the transition.

“Every day that an orderly presidential transition process is delayed, our democracy grows weaker in the eyes of our own citizens and the nation’s stature on the global stage is diminished,” the letter stated. 

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Wall Street heavyweights such as Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink and Visa CEO Alfred Kelly Jr. were among the signatories.

Meanwhile, Biden and his team are proceeding as if an orderly transition is assured — a stance that is itself making plain the diminution of Trump’s power. 

The Biden transition team announced several key appointments Monday. Antony Blinken will be tapped to serve as secretary of State in the Biden administration, Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of Homeland Security (the first Latino to hold the post), Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and former Sen. John KerryJohn KerryParis Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing Kerry promises Europeans Biden will seek to make up time on climate action OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord | Biden nixes Keystone XL permit, halts Arctic refuge leasing | Interior secretary rescinds wilderness protection order before leaving office MORE (D-Mass.) as a special envoy on climate change.

Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenOn The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage MORE is widely reported to be Biden’s pick as Treasury secretary, though that has not yet been officially confirmed.

The Republican base may not be willing to give up on Trump just yet. An Economist/YouGov poll last week indicated that a startling 84 percent of GOP voters believed Biden did not legitimately win the election.

Late Monday, news broke that General Services Administration head Emily Murphy had sent a letter to the Biden campaign noting that the administration was ready to begin the formal transition process.

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On Twitter, Trump wrote, "Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail!"

But the facts say differently. The GOP, and other conservatives, are grappling with that reality.

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency.