First Read's Morning Clips


“In a sudden reprise of Cold War sensibilities, the U.S. and its allies are weighing sanctions on Moscow and whether to bolster defenses in Europe in response to Russia's military advances on Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry, soon on his way to Ukraine's capital, said world leaders ‘are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion,’” AP writes. “Much as when superpower tensions ruled world affairs, missile defense systems and troop levels in Europe have again become urgent questions in Washington and beyond, a renewed reality that may force President Barack Obama's administration to give up its intended foreign policy shift to Asia indefinitely.”

So much for criticism of a sitting president stopping at the water’s edge… House Intel Chairman Mike Rogers (R) says Putin is “running circles around” the U.S. ““I think Putin is playing chess, and I think we’re playing marbles. It’s not even close,” he said on FOX. And yet when asked about a military option, he said, ““There are not a lot of options on the table.”

How about this from Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: "Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everyone's eyes roll including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.”

Marco Rubio (R-FL) called Russia a “government of liars.”

USA Today: “President Obama has only limited options to punish Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over military action in Ukraine, but some Republicans say that is partly the result of Obama's own foreign policy.”

Michael Hirsch calls Ukraine “Obama’s biggest test.” “Barack Obama suddenly faces the toughest crisis of his presidency as he confronts Vladimir Putin over Ukraine, and how he responds over the next few days could define his legacy,” he writes.

Russia’s energy minister canceled a trip to Houston for an energy conference. Politico says Russia has lost leverage in what used to be a strong energy/gas hand in Ukraine.

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meet at the White House today. Peace with Palestinians as well as Iran are on the agenda.

Obama heads to Connecticut Wednesday to push for a higher minimum wage.

CONGRESS: Brady to challenge Ryan

Kevin Brady (R-TX) would challenge Paul Ryan (R-WI) for House Ways and Means Committee chairman.

“President Barack Obama’s nomination of Debo P. Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has unleashed a decades-old racial feud centered on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal that threatens to cross partisan lines and give credence to Senate Republican worries that more controversial nominees will be confirmed since Democrats eased the process last year,” Roll Call writes, adding, ”Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania announced Friday he would oppose the nomination, and several Democrats up for re-election in swing or conservative states might think twice about wading into the hornets’ nest that surrounds Abu-Jamal.”

OFF TO THE RACES: About those Clinton files

Politico on the Clinton files: “Anyone hoping to divine insight into the true Hillary Clinton from the latest cache of documents is bound to be disappointed yet again. For the media, the main attraction of the so-called Clinton files – beyond inherent interest in the former president and the former Secretary of State – was the possibility the documents would yield new clues about the Hillary Clinton of the future, the one who may run for president again. … If she runs for president in 2016, Clinton will be running as the same person she was in 1992, and likely the same person she was before that – funny, warm and loving to her closest friends and aides, but somebody who has difficulty projecting that version of her character through the media’s lens.”

AP with some of the biggest takeaways from the files, including aides telling Hillary Clinton to “be real” and that she should socialize more because it would “humanize” her.

Rand Paul (R-KY) golfed Saturday in Palm Beach, FL, with Donald Trump. It was their first meeting.

With retirements, top rematches in House races have fizzled, Roll Call writes.

Hotline’s out with its top 10 Senate races and writes, “The 2014 Senate landscape continues to look challenging for Democrats. Republicans can take back the chamber after eight years of Democratic control with a net gain of six seats, and the seven seats most likely to flip are held by Democrats in states President Obama lost in 2012.”

In fact, just two of its top 15 are Republican-controlled: 1. SD (D), 2. WV (D), 3. MT (D), 4. AR (D), 5. NC (D), 6. LA (D), 7. AK (D), 8. GA (R), 9. MI (D), 10. KY (R), 11. CO (D), 12. IA (D), 13. VA (D), 14. MN (D), 15. NH (D).

Republicans have expanded the map more than Democrats, especially with the entrance of Rep. Cory Gardner into the Colorado Senate race. “Overall, the 2014 landscape is tilting in the GOP's favor and the party is working to put more races in play to improve their prospects for a takeover,” USA Today writes.

MISSISSIPPI: Ex-Rep. Travis Childers (D) announced his run for the Senate, as Republicans have a primary battle in Mississippi.


*** Monday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer and The Wilson Center’s Jane Harman on the latest news out of Ukraine this morning. Plus, Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg joins Chuck to discuss his interview with President Obama ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the White House. Then, as we continue #TDR50, we’ll kick off our weeklong look at Texas with former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Rep. Martin Frost. All that plus, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, the latest on the winter weather hitting the East Coast and Chuck’s Monday Takeaway on the Oscars.

*** Monday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Amb. Marc Ginsberg, Investigative Reporter for Reuters David Rohde, MSNBC Political Analyst Jonathan Alter, Republican Strategist and MSNBC Contributor Susan Del Percio, and Political Analyst & Contributor Zerlina Maxwell

*** Monday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews former U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey and Time Magazine Chief Foreign affairs correspondent Michael Crowley about the latest on the Ukraine; NBC Sports Mary Carillo on the start of the Oscar Pistorius trial; Staff Writer at the Sumter Item Bristow Marchant on the George Stinney Jr. re-trial; Dr. Art Caplan, a Bioethicist from NYU on new Morning After pill rules; and It's Oscar time! NBC Correspondent at E! Alicia Quarles has the latest from Hollywood’s biggest night.

*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Israeli Prime Minister Chief Spokesperson Mark Regev, Fmr. Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod, The Atlantic’s Steven Clemons, NBC’s Bill Neely, Tom Costello, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Richard Lui and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.