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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The story of the decade is unfolding like a novel: A U.S. enemy sought to manipulate our new, unregulated social media ecosystem to help disrupt our elections and elect a Twitter-obsessed, former reality TV star president — in one of the great upsets in U.S. history.

Robert Mueller, who is helping write this novel as part of his sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the election, is pulling many of the biggest names in modern America into the script: Trump, Putin, Google, Twitter, Facebook.

For the first time, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will publicly explain her company's role in this saga:

  • Join me live TODAY on Facebook or Axios.com at 9 a.m. ET for my interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg — the first public interview of a senior Facebook executive since revelations about Russian-backed groups buying election ads on the platform
  • "Like" our Facebook page to get the notification.

Sandberg's trip to Capitol Hill yesterday made some news ... Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee told reporters yesterday after a closed-door meeting with Sandberg that they plan to release the 3,000 Russia-backed ads Facebook has turned over — probably after Nov. 1public testimony by Facebook, Twitter and Google officials.

Axios' David McCabe: "Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said ... Facebook is 'committed to providing' information related to the free content published by the same Russian pages that bought" the ads.

  • Lawmakers said that before the ads are released, they'll be scrubbed of personally identifiable information. The Hill has asked Facebook for help with that.
  • Schiff said Sandberg "indicated the company wants the help of the intelligence community to identify" foreign actors creating fake identities on Facebook. (AP)

Be smart: Although Sandberg's visit to the Hill shows the company is trying to be more open, lawmakers tell me they're far from satisfied — and that there's a ton more for Facebook, Google and Twitter to know and reveal.

Go deeper: "The questions Congress wants to ask Facebook," by Axios' David McCabe and Sara Fischer: "The pressure is greater than any other moment in the company's recent history."

  • Rep. Adam Schiff: "I think there's a lot of interest in the committee on the progress of Facebook's internal investigation, when they discovered what they discovered, how exhaustive their review has been, what more forensics need to be done."
  • See more questions.
  • N.Y. Times: "We Asked Facebook 12 Questions About the Election, and Got 5 Answers."
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

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