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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Facebook policy executive Joel Kaplan's attendance at Brett Kavanaugh's testimony last week sparked a firestorm inside the company, Mike Isaac reports in the New York Times.

Our thought bubble: The reaction is another example of the kind of turmoil Silicon Valley companies face when leaders make choices that clash with values held by many in their workforce.

Kaplan and Kavanaugh are close friends, having served in the George W. Bush administration together. Kaplan's wife, Laura Cox Kaplan, has also been a vocal supporter of the Supreme Court nominee since allegations emerged that he committed sexual misconduct in high school and college.

  • Kaplan, who is Facebook's vice president of global public policy, has reportedly apologized for his appearance at the hearing. The company has said he was there on personal time.

Now, Facebook employees are putting pressure on the company's leadership over Kaplan's decision.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees he wouldn't have attended, if he had been in Kaplan's shoes, per the Times and a Wall Street Journal report.
  • Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that she "talked to Joel about why I think it was a mistake for him to attend given his role in the company," per both papers.

What they're saying:

"Sexual assault is an issue society has turned a blind eye to for far too long — compounding every victim's pain. Our leadership team recognizes that they've made mistakes handling the events of the last week and we're grateful for all the feedback from our employees."
— Facebook spokesperson

The bottom line: "Even at Facebook, people seem more riled up about the Kavanaugh hearings than the giant Facebook hack," noted Wired editor Nicholas Thompson on Twitter.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct author's byline.

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sydney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.