Good Friday morning. Situational awareness: "Congress has once again forestalled a government shutdown — with a short-term funding measure through mid-January — and temporarily extended funding for health insurance for children from low-income families." (USA Today)
Two weeks of insight: Between now and New Year's Day, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and I will bring AM readers our year-end thoughts on the topics that matter most ...
Robert Mueller isn't the only one hot on the trail of the Russians' election interference and Facebook manipulation.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chair of the Intelligence Committee, tells us that based on witness testimony and documents that he has seen behind closed doors, the Russia probe is "the most important thing I will ever work on."
In TV interviews over the past year, Warner has been candid as he vacillated between thinking there's more smoke or more fire. Now, he clearly sees fire.
Up first: Calling back Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and other "principals involved in some of these activities" for more Intelligence Committee questioning.
What's next for Facebook: Warner said that Facebook still hasn't been fully candid, and plans to require more information about what happened in 2016, and more transparency on future political ads.
Why this matters: President Trump believes this investigation is wrapping up, and he'll soon be cleared. But few others agree.
At least 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers were targeted by the hacking group known as Fancy Bear, which has been linked to the Russian government, AP reports from Paris:
Hours after President Trump's tax-cut celebration on Wednesday, "aides and outside advisers had a spirited, and at times tense, discussion with him about the political outlook ahead of next year's midterm elections," the WashPost's Josh Dawsey and Bob Costa report:
Others are detecting the same sense of foreboding:
Be smart: Recent generic polls show Republicans down double digits to Dems, a tough way to start a midterm year that's traditionally harsh on new presidents.
Vice President Pence makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan — Pool report by Andrew Beatty of Agence France-Presse:
Reuters' Jeff Mason: "Pence flew by helicopter to Kabul, where he met President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the presidential palace. Pence told the leaders he hoped his presence there was tangible evidence that the United States was 'here to see this through.'"
"The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a measure critical of President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," per Bloomberg:
Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, announced: "[A]s of its next regular board meeting in January 2018, Eric Schmidt will be transitioning from his position as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, becoming a technical advisor to the company while continuing to serve on its board."
Axios' Ina Fried reads between the lines in her Login newsletter (Sign up here):
Why he matters: Schmidt brought experience and structure to the young Internet company. In recent years, he served as an elder statesman on the global stage and wielded political influence in Washington, especially under President Obama. But Schmidt had been a less central figure in recent months.
Schmidt said in a statement that the decision was a mutual one he made, along with co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
#MeToo continues to clean out media and sports:
Amazing Axios graphic ... "82 high-profile-men accused of sexual misconduct since Harvey Weinstein."
Mark Ein (pronounced "eyen") — a Washington-area investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist who controls the Kastle Systems building-security company and founded the Washington Kastles tennis team — is buying the floundering Washington City Paper, a 36-year-old alt-weekly.
Ein told me the deal was speeded up after the current owner, SouthComm, told employees Monday that their salaries would be cut 40% starting Jan. 1.
"Legendary sports broadcaster and former Padres play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg died [yesterday] at his La Jolla home, said his wife, Barbara. He was 82," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports:
"Janet Elder, who in a three-decade career at The New York Times rose from reporter to deputy managing editor, along the way spending many years as the editor of news surveys and election analysis, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. She was 61," The Times' Neil Genzlinger writes:
Remembering 2017 in 30 images ... Drapes billow out of broken windows at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The gunman broke the windows and began firing into a music festival with a cache of weapons, killing 58.
AP's Top 10 ... "The wave of sexual misconduct allegations that toppled Hollywood power brokers, politicians, media icons and many others was the top news story of 2017, according to AP's annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors," first conducted in 1936 (abdication of Britain's King Edward VIII was #1):
"The Trump administration is waging a linguistic battle across official Washington, seeking to shift public perception of key policies by changing the way the federal government talks about climate change, scientific evidence and disadvantaged communities," the WashPost's Juliet Eilperin and Lena Sun report on A1: