First Read's Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: New sanctions looming for Russia?

The Wall Street Journal, on the latest in Ukraine: "A Ukrainian military operation to wrest control of cities in the east from pro-Russian militants has begun, Ukraine's acting president said Tuesday, as Russia's foreign minister warned use of force could derail international talks on the crisis."

Reuters: "Russia declared Ukraine on the brink of civil war on Tuesday as Kiev said an ‘anti-terrorist operation’ against pro-Moscow separatists was underway, though the crackdown got off to a slow start, if at all."

New sanctions against Russia may be on the way as tensions continue to mount in Ukraine, writes the New York Times. "After a weekend of meetings, the White House was working on a list of new targets who would be barred from traveling to the United States or whose assets here would be frozen, officials said."

NBC: "President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to keep talking — but little else — in a telephone call Monday over Moscow's support for separatist protesters in Ukraine, the U.S. and Russia said."

Vice President Joe Biden will head to Brazil for the World Cup this summer, NBC's Shawna Thomas reports.

While politics make action on climate change all but impossible on Capitol Hill, a new U.N. report says that "the window is rapidly narrowing to forge new policies that will protect the globe from a future of serious food and water shortages, a drastic sea level rise, increased poverty and disease and other profound risks," writes the New York Times.

A good data point for Dems: “Health-insurance premiums for plans sold on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges will be lower than previously expected, according to a report released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office,” per the Wall Street Journal. “The findings, by Congress's nonpartisan spending analysts, result largely from the fact that insurance companies have redesigned plans on the government-run exchanges to shave costs.”

Obama on Monday honored the victims of Sunday's attack on a Jewish community center and retirement complex in Kansas City, NBC News reports.

On Tuesday, the president will privately mark the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing with a moment of silence, per the AP.

CONGRESS: Moderates of the world, unite!

POLITICO notes that a GOP-led Senate would boost the profiles of moderates -- if they decide to stick around. "A Senate led by Mitch McConnell and a narrow Republican majority would empower a small band of moderates like Joe Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat, who GOP leaders would be forced to woo to pass anything at all."

House Speaker John Boehner and seven other House Republicans traveled to Afghanistan this weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The House Ways and Means Committee is the oldest, and arguably the most powerful, in Congress with members responsible for writing the nation's tax laws. But a CNN investigation of all 39 Democrats and Republicans on the committee found that at least eight members have faced tax problems of their own.”

Senate Democrats may be eyeing another rules change on nominations to prevent slow-walking by the GOP. Roll Call: "Senate Democratic aides said it’s unclear whether there are enough votes to use the nuclear option a second time to limit the post-cloture time — yet. 'What you will have again is a slow building up of these violations of the comity of the Senate,” one aide said. “And you’ll have, if it continues, the momentum again to make another rules change.'"

OFF TO THE RACES: Landrieu’s newest TV ad

American Crossroads raised $5.2 million in March -- more than it raised in the previous 14 months combined, the Washington Post reports.

The Washington Post's Greg Sargent calls Jeb Bush's immigration comments a "seminal moment" in the immigration debate for crystallizing the two parties' different positions on what the fate of America's undocumented immigrants should be.

FLORIDA: Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehitnen says she's in for Jeb Bush if he runs, the Hill reports.

HAWAII: Gov. Neil Abercrombie has apologized after questioning whether the late Sen. Daniel Inoyue definitely intended him to name Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his successor, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

IDAHO: The Club for Growth is taking on incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson over his vote for TARP.

KENTUCKY: Mitch McConnell is burning through campaign funds fast ($12 million so far), but he's also maintaining big fundraising numbers, writes Sam Youngman of the Herald-Leader.

LOUISIANA: In a new re-election ad, Democrat Mary Landrieu is highlighting her efforts "to stand up to the administration in order to fight for Louisiana" -- and noting her powerful energy post in the Senate.

The "kissing congressman" scandal is bringing up a tricky question for Louisiana GOPers, but Gov. Bobby Jindal isn't taking the bait. Per the Baton Rouge Advocate, Jindal "refused to weigh into questions about the “double standard” of Republicans who continued to support U.S. Sen. David Vitter after his name surfaced in a prostitution scandal."

Speaking of Jindal: "Gov. Bobby Jindal has said he wants to withdraw Louisiana from a consortium of states developing the assessment associated with the Common Core academic standards if the Louisiana Legislature doesn't choose to do so on its own," writes the Times-Picayune.

MARYLAND: The Doug Gansler campaign has released an internal poll, from Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, showing that Gansler is trailing Anthony Brown by nine points, 31%-22%, down from Brown’s 23-point lead back in February, 42%-19%. From the memo: “The data make clear that Brown’s failed healthcare exchange has taken a toll on him. Only 37% give Brown a positive rating for the job he has done managing the exchange, while 47% give him a negative rating. Moreover, Gansler leads the field among those who offer negative evaluations of Brown’s performance.”

NEBRASKA: “Former Omaha mayor and congressman Hal Daub has weighed in on Nebraska's U.S. Senate race with an endorsement of Shane Osborn,” the Omaha World-Herald reports. Daub, a member of the NU Board of Regents, said he had planned to stay neutral in the race because all the candidates are personal friends of his and he has donated to all four campaigns.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Scott Brown’s campaign has seized on Politifact’s rating that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen votes with President Obama 99% is true. “The New Hampshire Republican Party said that Shaheen votes with Obama 99 percent of the time. Indeed, in 2013, Shaheen took the same position as the president 99 percent of the time when Obama outlined a clear position, based on analysis by Congressional Quarterly. And overall, her votes have aligned with the president’s wishes 98 percent of the time since she took office.”

The Brown campaign also notes that it raked in nearly $275,000 in the first 16 days it was able to raise money.

TEXAS: This reached out inbox last night: “Wendy Davis to Discuss Greg Abbott's Plan to Impose Standardized Tests Onto 4 Year Olds at Texas Retired Teachers Association Annual Convention.”

And trouble brewing for Rick Perry? The Houston Chronicle: “A grand jury was sworn in Monday to look into whether Gov. Rick Perry acted improperly last year when he threatened to kill funding for the Travis County district attorney's public corruption division unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned after her drunken driving conviction. The office of the governor - who carried through on the veto threat - has hired defense lawyer David Botsford to ‘ensure the special prosecutor receives the facts in this matter,’ Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.”


*** Tuesday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Guests include Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs at the State Department P.J. Crowley,’s Senior Editor Beth Fouhy, Buzzfeed’s Political Editor McKay Coppins, MSNBC Legal Analyst Faith Jenkins, and Senior Researcher for the Children’s Digital Media Center at LA Yalda Uhls.

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews reporter Steve Silva; Legal analyst Lisa Green on Pistorius; and Siverback Social CEO Chris Dessi on the 14 year-old Dutch girl arrested after a Twitter threat to American Airlines.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Gov. Deval Patrick, Fmr. FBI Special Agent in Charge of Boston Richard DesLauriers, the Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen, NBC’s Pete Williams and Ron Mott and we will carry portions of Boston’s Bombing tribute ceremony.

*** Tuesday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews The Boston Globe’s Mike Bello, The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, New York Times Staff Photographer Josh Haner and NBC News terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann.