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First Read’s Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: Russia demands evidence for responsibility

Russian officials are now pushing back on U.S. claims that pro-Russian separatists are responsible for the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jet, per NBCNews.com.

A train carrying the bodies of crash victims has arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, writes the New York Times. And pro-Russian rebels have handed over the black boxes from the plane.

Why is Putin willing to take such big risks in Ukraine? The Wall Street Journal: "In short, the goal of re-creating a Russian sphere of influence was colliding head-on with the spread of a Westernized, EU model for Europe, which was seeping toward Russia's doorstep. Mr. Putin faced a historic choice: swim with the tide or try to turn it. He chose the latter."

EU officials are meeting to consider more sanctions against Russia after the downing of the jet.

From the AP: "An Israeli soldier is missing following a deadly battle in the Gaza Strip, a defense official said Tuesday as Israeli airstrikes pummeled a wide range of targets in the coastal strip and diplomatic efforts intensified to end more than two weeks of fighting that has killed at least 585 Palestinians and 29 Israelis."

From the New York Times: Israel's choice, as world leaders demand a halt to the hostilities in Gaza: "If it stops now, it faces the prospect of a newly embittered enemy retaining the capacity to attack. But if it stays the course, it is liable to kill many more civilians and face international condemnation."

The Texas Tribune on Gov. Rick Perry's move to send National Guard troops to the border amid the immigration influx: "Democrats blasted the decision as a political stunt by a governor with presidential ambitions. But Perry, who has the power to call up Guard troops to deal with a broad variety of crises, said Texas had to act because the federal government has offered nothing but “lip service and empty promises” while the border is overrun with illegal activity ... Absent a federal activation, Perry said he acted on his own, meaning that Texans will pick up the $12-million-a-month tab authorities say the deployment will cost. The governor and other Republican elected officials said they would ask the federal government to pay for the mobilization."

But the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent interviewed the head of the National Guard under George W. Bush, who says that sending in the guard might not be the appropriate response to what’s happening at the border. “If you’re talking about search and rescue, maintaining the rule of law or restoring conditions back to normal after a natural disaster or a catastrophe, the Guard is superbly suited to that. I’m not so sure that what we’re dealing with in scope and causation right now would make it the ideal choice.”

A federal judge has thrown out Sen. Ron Johnson's challenge to the part of Obamacare that grants health insurance subsidies for Hill members and staff, saying "There is nothing in the Constitution stipulating that all wrongs must have remedies, much less that the remedy must lie in federal court."

CONGRESS: Punt

Here's Harry Reid yesterday, not exactly bullish on Congress's ability to address pressing VA and border issues.

And POLITICO writes this blunt lede, with a similar theme: "Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are united on one thing: The best strategy this election year is to punt on any big decisions."

Boehner’s latest statement on the border issue, via Frank Thorp: “As I said last week, I don't believe the American people will support sending more money to the border unless both parties work together to address these policies and actually solve this problem. The lack of leadership from this White House, and President Obama's refusal to stand up to critics in his own political party, are jeopardizing our ability to find common ground and help the kids who are caught in the middle of this crisis."

Roll Call: "A pileup of nominations — particularly for scores of would-be U.S. ambassadors — has the Obama administration pushing hard for Senate action ahead of the August recess, while senators want to get home to campaign before the midterms. There are 224 executive and 29 judicial nominations awaiting Senate action, according to the White House, including many whose lives have been on hold for a year or more."

OFF TO THE RACES: Schumer backs top-two primary system

Sen. Chuck Schumer writes in a New York Times op-ed that the country should end partisan primaries, which he argues pulls candidates to ideological extremes. "We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle."

The RNC is launching robocalls this week in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia, urging voters to “Fire Reid” by booting out Democratic senators in the midterm elections.

ALASKA: Mark Begich doesn't sound like he's on board with Obama's $3.7 billion request for the border crisis. He tells the ADN: "It’s clear that the current overall system at the border isn’t working. That is why I have strong reservations about the president’s budget request. I think he’s asking for too much money -- it doesn’t make sense to me to throw more money at a broken system. We must fix the problem."

COLORADO: The Denver Post: "Colorado's new immigrant driver's license law plagued with problems"

FLORIDA: Rep. David Jolly of Florida is the eighth GOP member of Congress to come out in support of gay marriage. His statement to the Washington Post: "As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage. But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”

GEORGIA: It's Georgia Primary Day! Here's the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Five Things to Watch: 1) Overall turnout 2) Who’s making inroads in metro Atlanta? 3) Can Kingston run up the score in the southeast again? 4) Will Perdue’s outside-ATL focus work? 5) How late will we go?

The last-minute ads in this race have been tough. The Chamber is up with one blasting Perdue for "crying like a little baby" over losing its endorsement. (Oof)

And Perdue dropped the "A-bomb" on Kingston, slamming him for being backed by "pro-amnesty" groups (read: The Chamber.)

IOWA: Bernie Sanders is headed back to Iowa, reports the Des Moines Register.

KENTUCKY: Alison Grimes is up with another "question" ad, this time hitting Mitch McConnell on jobs.

MISSISSIPPI: Here's Chris McDaniel, continuing his feud with the Barbours: ""They went out and for three weeks they race baited. They called me a racist. They said if I was elected, I was going to stop food stamps. If I was elected, I would keep minorities from voting ... that I could cut off funding for historically black colleges. That is not the case. "We have to be better than that. When it comes to race baiting we should be ashamed of those in our party who did that."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The New Hampshire Democratic Party is up with a Buzzfeed community post titled: "7 Places Scott Brown Could Have Hidden (Other Than A Bathroom) To Avoid Hobby Lobby Questions"

Here's some background on that claim, from the Guardian.

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Tuesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Luke Russert interviews NBC’s Jim Maceda, NBC’s Keir Simmons, The Atlantic’s Steve Clemmons, Sen Jon Tester, NBC’s Martin Fletcher, NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin, MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart, TX. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Senate Candidate Rep. Jack Kingston, The Wall Street Journal’s Russell Gold

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Gayle Lemmon of the Women and Foreign Policy Program Council on Foreign Relations and Phil Ewing, Politico’s Senior Defense Editor on the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Bob Menendez, Rep. Ed Royce, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center Yousef Munayyer, NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin, Martin Fletcher and Keir Simmons, nbcnews.com Asian America editor Amna Nawez, the New York Times’ Sabrina Tavernise and Peter Baker, Bloomberg Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Cummings and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.