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First Read's Morning Clips: McConnell aims to use courts to motivate voters

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day.
Image: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) returns to the U.S. Capitol just before midnight on Feb. 8, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) returns to the U.S. Capitol just before midnight on Feb. 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After a delay caused by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), both the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to vote in the early morning on a long term funding bill following an agreement between Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate.Win McNamee / Getty Images

MIDTERM MADNESS: McConnell hopes to motivate voters by putting GOP stamp on courts

Alex Seitz-Wald looks at how the GOP strategy in the Senate is very different than in the House.

The Washington Post notes that Republicans are getting nervous about typically safe seats.

Leigh Ann Caldwell writes that Mitch McConnell is hoping to motivate GOP voters by putting a strong conservative imprint on the courts.

The DNC is hiring more minorities and women amid criticism, writes Seitz-Wald.

CA: Republicans are still facing down the possibility of having no candidate at the top of the ticket, the New York Times notes.

CA-GOV:The LA Times profiles gubernatorial candidate John Chiang.

And neither John Cox nor Travis Allen won the California Republican Party’s endorsement on Sunday.

NY-GOV: Andrew Cuomo is reaching out to upstate Democrats to run for state Senate.

OH-12: The New York Times profiles Tim Kane.

OH-GOV: The AP contrasts Kucinich and Cordray.

WI-SEN: Leah Vukmir is hoping to win her party’s endorsement at the weekend’s GOP convention.

WV-SEN: Is Don Blankenship surging? And can Donald Trump’s intervention in the race make a difference?

Ali Vitali has everything you need to know about Blankenship’s potential surge.

TRUMP AGENDA: How Michael Cohen built his business empire

Our NBC News team has the latest on Gina Haspel’s CIA nomination — and how she considered withdrawing last week.

The New York Times does a deep dive on how Michael Cohen built his empire.

Low-level gun offenders are the latest target of Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department, writes the New York Times.

Giuliani says Trump wouldn’t have to comply with a subpoena from Mueller. And he says he’s happy with the legal team’s media tour, saying “everybody’s reacting to us now.”

The Washington Post looks at Melania Trump’s separate life from her husband.

Elaine Chao is coming under scrutiny for her interviews with her father in front of the DOT emblem.