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Photos: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images, Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Top Republicans are privately worried about a new threat to President Trump’s campaign: the possibility of Facebook pulling a Twitter and banning political ads. 

Why it matters: Facebook says it won't, but future regulatory pressure could change that. If Facebook were to ban — or even limit — ads, it could upend Trump’s fundraising and re-election plan, GOP officials tell Axios.

  • Trump relies heavily — much more so than Democrats — on targeted Facebook ads to shape views and raise money.

Red flag: Kara Swisher, of Recode, the super plugged-in tech writer, predicted on CNBC's "Squawk Box" that Mark Zuckerberg will ultimately buckle on allowing demonstrably false political adds on Facebook: "He's going to change his mind — 100% ... [H]e's done it before."

  • Twitter this week announced a ban on political and advocacy ads. ("Platforms give pols a free pass to lie," by Scott Rosenberg)
  • Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale ridiculed the decision ("yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives"), signaling the wicked backlash that would hit Zuckerberg.

Why it would hurt Trump: His campaign has mastered the art of using Facebook’s precision-targeting of people to raise money, stir opposition to impeachment, move voters and even sell Trump shirts and hats.

  • The Trump campaign often uses highly emotional appeals to get clicks and engagement, which provides valuable data on would-be voters and small-dollar donors.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Axios: "We’ve always known that President Trump was too successful online and that Democrats would one day seek to wipe him off the Internet."

  • "That’s why we’ve invested so heavily in building up our data to allow us to communicate with millions of voters away from any third-party platforms like Facebook."
  • "Democrats demanding internet platforms shut down political advertising will guarantee Trump’s victory in 2020. They’re idiots."

By the numbers: The Trump campaign has spent $15.7 million dollars on Facebook ads this year, according to data from progressive advertising firm Bully Pulpit Interactive.

  • The next closest Democratic spender is billionaire Tom Steyer, who has so far spent less than half of that.
  • Those numbers don't include millions of dollars of additional Facebook ad spending from outside groups. The conservative non-profit Judicial Watch, for example, has spent $2.5 million on issue ads since the beginning of the year.

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Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.

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