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October 31, 2017

Facebook will tell Congress this week that its current "best estimate is that approximately 126 million people may have been served" at least one story posted by the Kremlin-linked troll farm the Internet Research Agency (IRA) between June 2015 and August 2017, according to copies of the prepared testimony of Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch obtained by CNNMoney and Axios. Facebook has 213 million monthly active users in the U.S., so that would suggest Russian ads hit more than half of U.S. Facebook users during the 2016 election.

Facebook says those posts were "a tiny fraction of the overall content on Facebook," but as CNN's Dylan Byers points out, it's also a big uptick from Facebook's earlier estimates.

Stretch says the IRA served content directly to 29 million users, but those users shared it, broadening its reach to 126 million. Similarly, an estimated 11.4 million people saw ads purchased by the IRA. Stretch says the Russian ads are "deeply disturbing," and "seemingly intended to amplify societal divisions and pit groups of people against each other." Facebook says it does not know how many of the 126 million people actually saw the Russian content they were served.

Twitter and Google will also testify that the Russian trolls used social media to reach more of the electorate than previously acknowledged. Google will say that it has evidence that Russian operatives uploaded at least 1,108 videos to YouTube with 43 hours of content, and paid at least $4,700 for search and display ads, The Washington Post reports. Twitter will acknowledge that 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives, not just the IRA, and 36,000 Russian bots tweeted 1.4 million election-related tweets, reaching 288 million Twitter users. Peter Weber

2:13 p.m. ET
CBS News/Screenshot

"This morning the president is again accusing the Justice Department and the FBI of misleading courts and illegally surveilling his campaign," CBS host Margaret Brennan said to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Face the Nation Sunday, referring to President Trump's angry response to the Carter Page surveillance documents. "Is he wrong?"

"No," Graham replied, breaking with his Senate GOP colleague, Florida's Marco Rubio. Graham then called for scrutiny of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court, which approved the spying on Page.

"I think that the whole FISA award process needs to be looked at," he said. "The warrant on Carter Page was supported mostly by the dossier that came from Michael Steele, who [was] being paid by the Democratic Party to do opposition research; and the dossier was collected, I think, from Russian intelligence services; and if you ask the FBI today how much of the dossier on Trump has been verified, [it's] almost none of it."

The extent to which the warrants were based on the dossier is subject to debate along predictably partisan lines. Less predictable is Graham's sudden discovery within himself of suspicion of the FISA court: Before Trump took office, the senator was a stalwart opponent of limits on the court's power, repeatedly voting to permit warrantless surveillance and prevent reform. In 2015, he claimed "anybody who neuters" the FISA court's "roving wiretap" program "is going to be partially responsible for the next [terrorist] attack." Bonnie Kristian

1:25 p.m. ET

President Trump claims the FBI spied on and undermined his presidential campaign in 2016 for partisan purposes. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) does not.

Responding to Saturday's publication of the FBI's application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in connection to Russian election interference, Rubio said on CNN Sunday he "has a different view on it."

The feds "knew who [Page] was even before the campaign," Rubio explained on State of the Union. "I don't believe that them looking into Carter Page means they were spying on the campaign," he continued. "I also don't think it proves anything about collusion. ... I don't think it's part of any broader plot. The only plot here is the plot to interfere in our election by the Russians."

Also contra Trump, Rubio argued the FBI did not do "anything wrong" in its application to spy on Page: "I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out all the information ― and there was a lot of reasons ... for why they wanted to look at Carter Page."

Rubio also addressed Trump's recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Trump's plan for a second summit with Putin this fall. Watch the whole interview below. Bonnie Kristian

11:49 a.m. ET

Authorities are searching for a University of Iowa student named Mollie Tibbetts, 20, who disappeared Wednesday while out for an evening jog. Tibbetts was running in Brooklyn, a small town about halfway between Iowa City and Des Moines. She gave no indication anything was wrong before her jog, her boyfriend said.

"Everything's on the table, unfortunately," said Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel. "We're hoping that she's somewhere with a friend, and she'll show up Monday or Tuesday, and everything will get back to normal." Bonnie Kristian

11:36 a.m. ET
Alex Halada

"America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday, "and war with Iran is the mother of all wars."

Rouhani issued his warning to the Trump administration at a meeting of Iranian diplomats, arguing that attempts to undermine Tehran among the Iranian public would not be successful. "You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran's security and interests," he said. In 1953, the U.S. helped engineer a coup to overthrow Iran's democratically elected government and support a pro-Western monarchy.

The Iranian president also addressed President Trump's June demand, since softened, that nations including China, India, and Turkey stop purchasing oil from Iran by early November. "Anyone who understands the rudiments of politics doesn't say, 'We will stop Iran's oil exports,'" Rouhani said.

Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year, claiming future negotiations will lead to a better arrangement. That has yet to materialize. Bonnie Kristian

11:02 a.m. ET
Omar Jaj Kadour/Getty Images

Israeli troops evacuated 422 people from Syria to Jordan overnight Saturday and Sunday at the request of the United States and several European countries. The original plan was to evacuate 800, but complications including gains by the Islamic State hindered the rescue mission.

The evacuees were "White Helmet" volunteers, a civil defense group that conducts search and rescue operations, evacuations, and medical work in rebel-held areas of Syria. The group and their families were located in the Golan Heights area. Syrian government troops are advancing into the region, and the Bashar al-Assad regime considers the White Helmets a terrorist organization though they are credited with saving more than 100,000 lives.

The evacuees will be granted asylum and resettled in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada. "Humanity dictates that many of these brave first-aiders should now find protection and refuge, some of them in Germany," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The Canadian Foreign Ministry likewise expressed a "deep moral responsibility to these brave and selfless people." Bonnie Kristian

10:19 a.m. ET
Robyn Beck/Getty Images

When his Los Angeles Trader Joe's store became the site of a three-hour standoff with police Saturday, an employee named Sean Gerace sprang into action.

After hearing gunshots and screams, Gerace took several of his coworkers to the store's upper level. "I grabbed an emergency ladder, barricaded the hallway, grabbed a weapon, put the ladder out the window, and just tried to get the attention of a SWAT officer," he told a local TV station. Once he got the okay from the police, Gerace helped his group escape the store.

The standoff ended with one woman dead and six people injured. The suspect was being chased by police when he crashed his car outside the store, fired a gun at police pursuing him, and then barricaded himself inside the Trader Joe's.

The suspect has not been identified, but he was being chased by authorities after critically injuring his grandmother by shooting her seven times. He eventually surrendered to police custody, handcuffing himself for arrest. Bonnie Kristian

8:36 a.m. ET

President Trump raged on Twitter in response to the Justice Department's publication of the FBI's applications for warrants to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in connection to Russian election interference. Saturday evening, Trump claimed the entire Russia probe is a Democratic attempt to undermine the GOP in the 2018 midterms, repeating all his usual refrains:

On Sunday, Trump pivoted to accusing the DOJ and FBI of illegal actions and partisan aims:

The four "judges who signed off on this stuff" were all appointed by Republican presidents. Bonnie Kristian

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