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Republicans Splinter Over Whether to Make a Full Break From Trump

For a number of Republicans who have long been skeptical of Mr. Trump, the events of the last two months have been clarifying. From his initial refusal to concede defeat and his relentless attacks on Republican state officials, which undermined the party’s hopes for winning the Georgia Senate seats, to savaging lawmakers and his own vice president just hours before the Capitol riot, Mr. Trump has proved himself a political arsonist.

“Trump is a political David Koresh,” said Billy Piper, a former chief of staff to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, referring to the cult leader who died with his followers during an F.B.I. siege in Waco, Texas. “He sees the end coming and wants to burn it all down and take as many with him as possible.”

The violence in Washington appeared to embolden an array of Republican lawmakers, including some who took office only days ago, to condemn Mr. Trump’s political recklessness and urge the party toward a different course. The party’s humiliating double losses in Georgia, the day after Mr. Trump appeared at a rally there, also served to punctuate the growing peril for Republicans in the fastest-growing, more culturally diverse parts of the country, which are on track to amass more political power in the coming decade.

The party faces a threat to its financial base, too. Several of the most powerful business federations in Washington denounced the chaos this week in stinging language, including an extraordinary statement from the normally nonpolitical National Association of Manufacturers that suggested Mr. Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

Representative Tom Reed of New York, who has emerged as a leader of more moderate Republicans in the House, said Thursday that the party needed to begin “not worrying about base politics as much, and standing up to that base.” He argued that Republicans should pursue compromise legislation with Mr. Biden on issues like climate change, and forecast that a sizable number of Republicans would take that path.

“If that means standing up to the base in order to achieve something, they’ll do it,” Mr. Reed predicted.

Mr. Reed warned his party that the Democrats would depict the G.O.P. as a dangerous party in 2022 if they did not rebut that charge.

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