Good Thursday morning. Situational awareness: Members of Mueller's team have begun reaching out to former RNC staff who were familiar with the digital operations of the Trump campaign, per Axios' Jonathan Swan, confirming Yahoo's Michael Isikoff.
Two weeks of insight ... Through New Year's Day, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and I bring AM readers our year-end thoughts on the topics that matter most ...
Mark Zuckerberg started 2017 scoffing at the idea of Russia election manipulation on Facebook, and looked like he was contemplating his own possible run for the presidency.
Facebook's CEO ends 2017 a very changed man: scrambling to curtail (some of) the manipulation he now acknowledges exists, and to save the most powerful platform in human history.
In Silicon Valley, you hear frequent comparisons between the tech giants and the old utilities: The companies are quickly becoming the infrastructure across which all information moves. Going forward, they will be scrutinized that way.
Facebook, Google and Twitter are no longer seen as harmless toys and tools. In fact, the political and public swing against these darlings of Silicon Valley is one of the most important non-Trump trends of the year — and one likely to echo for many years to come:
Be smart: Turns out that Zuckerberg, with his high-profile travel through Trump country, was gearing up for a political campaign — just not the one you thought. He knows the worldwide fight for Facebook's reputation will last a lifetime, and will influence how far and fast regulators go.
Be watchful: Facebook is not fighting fake news — it's fighting spam and clickbait. This is a significant and highly substantive differentiation.
In a sharp break from a sympathetic posture toward Michael Flynn, President Trump's legal team is prepared to attack the indicted former national security adviser as a liar, according to the WashPost's Carol Leonnig:
Be smart: Trump's team has still said nothing negative about Flynn in public. But the Post theory gibes with Trump lawyers' belief that Mueller will come up with nothing on collusion. That leaves obstruction as most likely charge. And without Flynn as a credible witness, that could become a stretch.
The Iraqi military and U.S.-led coalition succeeded in uprooting the Islamic State group across the country, but the damage is nearly incalculable, AP reports from Mosul:
A surfer waits for a wave as the sun sets over the horizon yesterday in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
The Google News Lab captures the biggest news events of Trump's presidency.
"Crime in New York City Plunges to a Level Not Seen Since the 1950s," the N.Y. Times reports in its lead story:
From "17 striking findings from 2017," by Pew Research Center.
Republican Roy Moore filed a lawsuit to try to stop Alabama from certifying Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of the U.S. Senate race, AP reports from Montgomery:
Bill and Hillary Clinton pose backstage yesterday at the hit musical "The Band's Visit," at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theater, with stars Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk.
Reliving 2017 in 30 images ... Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in "Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir," written with Mark Salter, has this thought for the ages: "Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone."
"Quite a year for bad guys on the screen: Villains reflect a growing social divide" — L.A. Times front-pager by Jeffrey Fleishman: In movies and on TV, a "recent group of tormented villains embodies a cultural war in an America anxious over its direction amid restive populations of women and people of color, and widening divides between liberals and conservatives and rich and poor.""Literature and film reach into our recesses to summon outsize and eerily accurate depictions of our world, which these days is a hyperdrive of suspicion and recrimination.Why it matters: "The flaw is what we most often remember in our malefactors. It makes their acts more heinous because they are in so many ways like us, the poison in our well."