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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lawmakers will get the chance to grill Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week about the company’s data practices, its role in elections, and whatever else is on their mind.

The big picture: Members of the three committees questioning Zuckerberg will all recognize that it’s the rare chance to take their Facebook criticisms straight to its founder and get the media attention that comes along with that.

  • The three GOP committee chairmen — Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Greg Walden — have all have been willing to take on large tech companies in recent months. Walden indicated the industry would find itself regulated if it didn’t step up, Grassley called a top internet lobbyist to a hearing on guns, and Thune joined Walden in questioning Apple about its battery slowdowns.
  • Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham are both critical of the companies in the context of national security. Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has asked social platforms to investigate the role of bots in the social media campaign to release the House Intelligence Committee Republican memo about the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.
  • Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is on the Judiciary and Commerce Committees and is a lead sponsor of legislation that would regulate online political ads, the main piece of draft legislation to come out of the Russian election meddling controversy. Facebook backed the bill Friday.
  • Democratic Sens. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal are longtime thorns in the side of tech companies when it comes to privacy — and nobody expects them to let up now. They’ve already seized on revelations that tens of millions more users' data might have been harvested by Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the center of the Facebook scandal.
  • GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Ted Cruz share the concerns of conservatives who think large web platforms could stifle right-leaning views — and both can be aggressive politicians.
  • Republican Sen. John Kennedy — one of the most quotable people on Capitol Hill — has said for some time he wants to hear directly from Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs, so watch for him to take his shot.

Some of Silicon Valley’s traditional defenders will be worth watching to see how they balance support and criticism. They include Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, who said last year that something must be done about “bad actors that have used the best of what we have invented to divide us”; and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, who represents the web giants but also closely questioned them about Russia last year.

The other coast: Zuckerberg has been preparing to face lawmakers with mock hearings and help from consultants and a major law firm, per the New York Times. Reuters also reported Sunday night that he'll meet with some lawmakers on the committees holding the hearings ahead of the public grilling.

Our thought bubble: The most striking moments of a congressional hearing come when a lawmaker surprises the witness with unexpected — or unexpectedly aggressive — questions. A tough hit against Zuckerberg by a lawmaker who's not on this list would have a good chance of grabbing headlines.

What's next: Zuckerberg will testify at a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee and Judiciary Committee Tuesday at 2:15 pm Eastern, and at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday at 10 am Eastern.

Go deeper

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

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