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Former CIA Director John Brennan told NBC News' Chuck Todd on Sunday that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has been given "increased confidence" by his relationship with the White House, which may explain his alleged action against journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The big picture: The White House is still considering responses to the disappearance and potential murder of Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Arabia. Trump said there would be "severe punishment" if the kingdom is found to be at fault, but has been vocally opposed to cutting off arms deals. Brennan said Trump is "siding up to authoritarian leaders around the globe ... condemnation of the press that's critical of him, [and] continued dishonesty and denials of reality ... has encouraged MBS to go along this road."

Chief White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow

Kudlow told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is waiting to see what else comes out about Khashoggi, but still plans to attend the Saudi investment conference — despite many other participants pulling out in protest.

"At the moment, he is intending to go because of the importance of the issue of ending terror financing. ... Mr. Mnuchin will make up his mind as the week progresses and as new information surfaces."
Senator Marco Rubio

Rubio told CNN's Jake Tapper that Mnuchin should not go to the conference and pretend it's "business as usual," and a weak response from the U.S. could undermine the U.S.' "ability to stand for morality and human rights all over the world."

"I don't think any of our government officials should be going and pretending as it's business as usual, until we know exactly what's happened here."
Senator Bernie Sanders

Sanders, a frequent critic of the U.S.' support of the Saudis in the war in Yemen, also told Tapper there has to be sanctions and a stopping of arms sales.

"We cannot have an ally who murders in cold blood. ... I think one of the strongest things we can do is not only stop military sales, not only put sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but most importantly, get out of this terrible, terrible war in Yemen.

Go deeper

Wall Street wonders how bad it has to get

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is working out how bad the economy will have to get for Congress to feel motivated to move on economic support.

Why it matters: A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery. But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide.

1 hour ago - Health

Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna announced that it plans to file with the FDA Monday for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine, which the company said has an efficacy rate of 94.1%.

Why it matters: Moderna will become the second company to file for a vaccine EUA after Pfizer did the same earlier this month, potentially paving the way for the U.S. to have two COVID-19 vaccines in distribution by the end of the year. The company said its vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate against severe COVID cases.

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.

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