THE TAKE with ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks
Mark Zuckerberg just changed the conversation about Russian interference in US elections and made it much harder for folks at the White House to skirt the issue. President Trump, so far, has bristled at any insinuation that his win was tainted by Russian influence. And before Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook had sold over $100,000 in ads to Russian companies and fake Russian accounts, it had mostly been lawmakers talking about the issue — lawmakers and government officials speaking with few specifics about hacking attempts that may or may not have mattered. Both were easy to brush aside in some way, but Facebook is different. Americans know and acknowledge that Facebook is an intimate part of their lives. They can picture a Facebook ad. They know campaigns buy them. The president’s own campaign relied almost exclusively on social media ads, and obviously thought they were worth something. The president likes social media because it is unfiltered and offers direct access to real people. The Russians seem to agree. The fact that Zuckerberg now says he has seen enough evidence to cooperate with investigators (or faced enough social pressure to do) means the company will stay a part of the conversation for the foreseeable future. It is much harder to argue Facebook ads do not matter in a campaign or that nothing needs to be addressed going forward.
TRUMP HEADS TO BATTLE IN ‘BAMA
The increasingly animated, high-stakes primary campaign in Alabama is about one man: President Trump. Tonight he will travel to the state to campaign for the sitting senator, Luther Strange. Despite the near-constant praise heaped on Trump by both candidates last night in the one and only debate, the president’s visit to the state tonight will be the first true test of his political muscle. The race that has become a proxy war between the GOP establishment (Mitch McConnell) and the “outsider” wing of the party (Steve Bannon and Breitbart). It is new territory for the president to be standing this time with McConnell. Roy Moore was bolstered after the debate by the likes of Sarah Palin and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, but there’s no denying that the arrival of Air Force One this evening will bring a boost to Strange. The president often embraces his unfiltered, free-wheeling style when speaking at these rallies, and you’d be hard pressed to find a friendlier crowd than the one Trump will encounter in the Heart of Dixie. Election day is just four days away, so there’s no need for Trump hold anything back in his efforts to push Strange over the finish line, ABC News’ John Verhovek writes.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I don’t expect him to vote because we’re friends, I expect him to vote for what’s best for the country” — Sen. Lindsey Graham on whether his friend Sen. John McCain will vote for his health care bill.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Former FBI Director James Comey delivers the opening convocation address at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’
In a Sunday exclusive, Martha Raddatz speaks with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Bill Cassidy, R-LA, on their proposed health care bill. Plus, see results from the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, Sunday on “This Week.”
NEED TO READ with ABC News’ Paola Chavez
Blue states would lose the most funding under Republican health plan. A new analysis finds that blue states could lose a significant amount of federal funding for health care under the Graham-Cassidy bill. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that if Graham-Cassidy becomes law, the federal government will spend $160 billion less from 2020 to 2026 to expand health insurance coverage, and 35 states plus the District of Columbia will face losses in federal funding. http://abcn.ws/2wJyGKS
Doctors, insurance companies and patient groups slam Graham-Cassidy. Insurance companies, doctors, patients, hospitals and other patient-provider groups are rallying together against the Graham-Cassidy plan, saying it could result in millions losing access to affordable health care and coverage. It’s not often you see these interest groups align, but the latest Republican repeal-and-replace effort has done just that. http://abcn.ws/2wLgmky
Trump claims Chinese banks won’t do business with North Korea. President Donald Trump claimed on Thursday that China, North Korea’s principal trading partner, has ordered its banks to stop doing business with the rogue regime. Trump spoke after signing an executive order aimed at companies and financial institutions that do business with North Korea. http://abcn.ws/2jOi6s9
Congressional investigators zero in on Manafort’s communications with liaison abroad. Sources with knowledge of the investigation surrounding former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort tell ABC News a key focus for congressional investigators is emails between Manafort and his longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik. http://abcn.ws/2fesZOE
Trump publicly backs healthcare effort, privately harbors doubts. Politico
Federal employees ordered to attend anti-leaking classes. The Associated Press
Price traveled by private plane at least 24 times. Politico
A ceremony at the FBI next week could make for some extremely awkward encounters. The Washington Post