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Facebook VP Joel Kaplan and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Aurelien Morissard/IP3/Getty Images

Top Facebook executive Joel Kaplan made an emotional appearance at a companywide town hall Friday, and admitted that he should have consulted his superiors before attending last week's Brett Kavanaugh hearing, according to sources.

Why it matters: Facebook is trying to contain internal fallout from employees who were dismayed by Kaplan's appearance at the hearing sitting behind his friend Kavanaugh, who he served with in the administration of George W. Bush.

  • Facebook sources said Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, was solemn and contrite as he said he recognized the difficult situation he had put the company in.
  • Refusing to bow to the attacks, Kaplan explained the tensions between his personal and professional obligations, and said he had a personal obligation to Kavanaugh and his family.
  • Kaplan said he should have talked to Zuckerberg and Sandberg first, according to a Facebook official. Asked whether he had regrets, Kaplan said his core values include friendship and loyalty, and he declined to say if it was a mistake to go.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg also appeared at the town hall, which was livestreamed to all employees, and made it clear they considered Kaplan's appearance a big mistake. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the record.

  • Zuckerberg said he understood a lot of Facebook employees were upset by the appearance, and expressed frustration that Kaplan had put the company in the middle of a political story, an official said.
  • Zuckerberg added that Facebook is a place where people can have diverse points of view.
  • Sandberg talked about the seriousness of sexual assault, and noted it is a pervasive issue in the country. She also expressed support for employees who did not share colleagues' concerns about Kaplan's attendance at the hearing.
  • Facebook management characterized Kaplan's appearance as a lapse of judgement on his part, according to one listener.
  • Speakers said Kaplan was there in his personal capacity on a personal day.

A Facebook employee who viewed the event characterized the meeting as "intense," and added that people were not expressing hostility but more incredulity at the situation.

This story has been updated to include more information about the meeting.

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Go deeper

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.