Sheryl Sandberg tells Facebook exec and Kavanaugh friend it was a ‘mistake’ to attend hearing

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg confronted an executive at the company about his decision to attend last week’s Brett Kavanaugh senate hearing. 

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, and his wife were at the hearing on September 27 to show support for the SCOTUS pick, who they are longtime friends with.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Kaplan’s attendance at the hearing has angered Facebook employees who took their grievances to Mark Zuckerberg during a weekly company Q-and-A session last Friday. 

Sources told the outlet that Zuckerberg said he wouldn’t have made the same decision to attend, but told employees that Kaplan did not violate any company policies.   

Sandberg, however, told employees in an internal discussion thread where many people were criticizing Kaplan that she talked to him and told him ‘why I think it was a mistake for him to attend, given his role in the company’. 

She added: ‘We support people’s right to do what they want in their personal time but this was by no means a straightforward case.’ 

Zuckerberg and other executives at the company are planning a company town hall on Friday to address the matter. Kaplan will call into the meeting from Washington DC, according to the Journal.

Kaplan and his wife, Laura Cox Kaplan, are close personal friends with Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley Kavanaugh. Laura and Ashley are said to be longtime friends who grew up near each other in Texas. 

In a September 17 tweet, Laura publicly stated her support for Kavanaugh, who is accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford at a party in 1983 when they were teenagers. 

‘#IStandWithJudgeBrettKavanaugh who is my friend of almost 20 years. As a colleague, husband, father, judge & friend I have only known him to behave honorably,’ Laura tweeted. ‘I am saddened by the accusation against him & the impact it has on his family, but I am confident that he is truthful.’

Kaplan and Kavanaugh also served on the Bush administration before Kaplan joined Facebook.

According to the Journal, Kaplan apologized in an internal forum for ‘surprising employees by his appearance’ at the hearing and said he did not think it would stir up controversy.

‘Sexual assault is an issue society has turned a blind eye to for far too long — compounding every victim’s pain,’ Facebook spokeswoman Roberta Thomson told the Journal. ‘Our leadership team recognizes that they’ve made mistakes handling the events of the last week and we’re grateful for all the feedback from our employees.’

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