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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The three most consequential platforms in the 2016 election are taking a similar approach to their appearances in front of congressional investigators over the next two days: They'll come clean about the millions of users who were exposed to Russian-bought ads and other content on their platforms before and after election day.

Why it matters: This is the chance for Google, Twitter and Facebook to convince lawmakers they're doing the right thing — reporting the findings of their internal investigations and taking steps to prevent a repeat. While they aren't expected to formally endorse a specific proposal, the companies' general counsels will emphasize their willingness to play ball in working out a disclosure solution for paid political ads online.

The companies worry the eye-popping raw numbers will get the headlines, without the context that they are relatively small compared to their overall user bases:

  • Facebook will say that more than half of its U.S. users may have seen content from the Russian pages.
  • Twitter will say it has discovered far more accounts linked to the Russian troll farm than it reported to Congress back in September.
  • And Google will break its silence to say that it found 18 YouTube channels likely affiliated with the Russian campaign, as well as confirm some previously-reported ad spending.

Prepping: Silicon Valley internet companies tend to act in packs, so it's not surprising that the policy teams for Google, Twitter and Facebook have been in touch as they prepared for the hearings.

Top brass in Silicon Valley will be watching the hearings closely. The companies, through their DC trade group, are also rolling out new "principles" for regulating online ads right before getting grilled by the sponsors of the Honest Ads Act that would put new disclosure requirements on online platforms.

  • The Internet Association says that lawmakers should balance transparency requirements with free speech and privacy, and that any legislation should take into account the various formats of online content. For example, the same type of disclosure that works for search may not work in a social media feed.
  • Sources say that Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner will push the witnesses on their Honest Ads bill, with Klobuchar likely to push especially hard on why the companies think it would be hard to comply with the law when smaller broadcast outlets are able to meet transparency requirements.

Watch live: Watch this afternoon's hearing with a Senate Judiciary subcommittee here, starting at 2:30 pm Eastern. Tomorrow, the Senate Intelligence Committee holds a hearing, followed by the House Intelligence Committee in the afternoon.

Go deeper: Majority of Americans are wary of regulating big tech.

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Go deeper

Rep. Rice demands Cuomo resign after third woman accuses him of misconduct

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February news conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) on Monday evening called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign, after a third woman accused him of inappropriate behavior.

Driving the news: Anna Ruch told the New York Times Monday that Cuomo asked to kiss her at a New York City wedding reception in September 2019.

Scoop: Inside the GOP's plan to retake the House

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Republicans will reclaim their majority in 2022 by offering candidates who are women, minorities or veterans, a memo obtained by Axios says.

Why it matters: The document, drafted by a super PAC blessed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, names top Democrats to target — Jared Golden of Maine, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Ron Kind of Wisconsin — and the type of Republican candidates to beat them.

Scoop: Trump talked out of early Ohio endorsement

Jane Timken at a 2017 Trump rally. Photo: Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio's 2022 U.S. Senate race, a sign of his eagerness to reengage politically, people familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

What we're hearing: The former president discussed endorsing former state GOP chair Jane Timken last week during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, but top advisers — including Donald Trump Jr. — urged him to wait.

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