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First Read’s Morning Clips: Russia Blames Rebel Cache

TRUMP AGENDA: Russia says chemical attack in Syria came from rebels’ caches

Russia says that a leak from a rebel chemical caches is to blame for gassing that’s killed at least 83 people. “The U.S. has said the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for the incident, which relief agency UOSSM says injured at least 350. However, Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konoshenkov said Tuesday morning's deadly leak came from a rebel "chemical warfare munitions" workshop that had been struck.”

Meanwhile, Trump is pointing to the failures of his predecessor in his responses to the Syria attack.

In the New York Times: “Mr. Trump has dispensed with what he considers pointless moralizing and preachy naïveté. He has taken foreign policy to its most realpolitik moment in generations, playing down issues of human rights or democracy that animated his predecessors, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. His “America First” approach focuses not on how other nations treat their people but on what they can do for the United States.”

On MSNBC yesterday, Susan Rice said it’s “absolutely false” that she sought to improperly unmask Trump campaign officials caught on intelligence surveillance for political purposes.

From NBC’s Maggie Fox: “The Trump administration's decision to pull support from a United Nations family planning agency hurts some of the world's most desperate women and girls, advocates said Tuesday. The State Department announced late Monday that it was yanking money from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which focuses on family planning, help for pregnant women and new babies.”

The Wall Street Journal, on Jeff Sessions: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision this week to review concessions by local police departments accused of misconduct is part of a seismic shift at the Justice Department, which has quickly changed its emphasis under the Trump administration from protecting civil rights to promoting law and order.”

Ivanka Trump says she is a “force for good” in her father’s White House.

CONGRESS:Nuclear power

The White House is disputing POLITICO’s report that Neil Gorsuch borrowed from other authors in some of his writings.

Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley held an all-night talkathon to protest the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch.

The New York Times asks an important question: “Senate Republicans are preparing to abolish the final vestige of power that the minority has to block presidential nominations, worrying many senators in both parties that the final and biggest domino — the power to filibuster legislation — will be next.”

Mitch McConnell, though, has so far promised not to kill the filibuster for legislation.

And from the Washington Post: “The nuclear option — in this case, allowing high court nominees to be approved by a simple majority — may also further poison relations between Democrats and Republicans as each side is embittered by the other’s behavior, from the GOP’s move to block any consideration of Garland in 2016 to the Democratic blockade of Gorsuch now. That could have a practical impact on Trump’s agenda, such as passing a complex tax package, health-care legislation and an infrastructure plan.”

Meanwhile, via POLITICO: “Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus are demanding to be included in negotiations on tax reform to keep it from meeting the same embarrassing fate as the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare. The head of the ultra-conservative group said Monday evening that lawmakers need to see the draft of a tax overhaul bill before it’s leaked to the media — which is what happened on the health care repeal bill. That measure failed in large part because it was written by leadership, and Freedom Caucus members felt they had no input.”

OFF TO THE RACES: NYT takes deep dive into GA-6

Ferguson, Missouri declined to elect its first black mayor yesterday in the first election since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.

GA-06: The New York Times does a deep dive on the Georgia special election.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is still looking good in recent polling.

MT-AL: Democrat Rob Quist is making public lands an issue in the Montana congressional race, writes the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte are taking different approaches to the state’s coal industry, although both are advocating to keep mining and using it.

And Quist is out with his first ad.

NJ-GOV: The Republican and Democratic fields for the gubernatorial primary are set.