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First Read's Morning Clips: Record Low Job Approval

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: U.S. President Trump sits for Reuters interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington
President Donald Trump sits for an interview in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Feb. 23.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

TRUMP AGENDA: Record low job approval

From our poll release on Sunday: “President Donald Trump's job approval rating stands at just 44 percent — a record low for a newly inaugurated commander-in-chief — and half of Americans say that his early challenges suggest unique and systemic problems with his administration, according to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.”

The New York Times: “President Trump will instruct federal agencies on Monday to assemble a budget for the coming fiscal year that includes sharp increases in Defense Department spending and drastic enough cuts to domestic agencies that he can keep his promise to leave Social Security and Medicare alone, according to four senior administration officials.”

From Axios: “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected outside officials with reporters to try to discredit a New York Times article about Trump campaign aides' contact with Russia, then remained on the line for the brief conversations.”

And from POLITICO: “Press secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on leaks coming out of the West Wing, with increased security measures that include random phone checks of White House staffers, overseen by White House attorneys. The push to snuff out leaks to the press comes after a week in which President Donald Trump strongly criticized the media for using unnamed sources in stories and expressed growing frustration with the unauthorized sharing of information by individuals in his administration.”

The AP: “The White House is dodging questions about whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions should consider withdrawing from the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. A prominent Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, has called for a special prosecutor and said it would be improper for Sessions to lead the investigation as the nation's chief law enforcement official. Sessions was an early supporter of President Donald Trump's candidacy.”

The Washington Post notes that the White House has still offered little guidance on the future of Obamacare.

And from the Wall Street Journal: “Republican leaders are betting that the only way for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act is to set a bill in motion and gamble that fellow GOP lawmakers won’t dare to block it. Party leaders are poised to act on the strategy as early as this week, after it has become obvious they can’t craft a proposal that will carry an easy majority in either chamber.”

The New York Times writes about tensions over his sympathy for Dreamers, which is earning him ire from hardliners in his own base.

POLITICO previews Tuesday’s address to Congress.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the timeline for the rollback of financial regulations is slipping.

“Financier Philip Bilden dropped his bid to become President Donald Trump's secretary of the Navy on Sunday, citing ethics requirements and the "undue disruption" the job would have caused to his family's private financial interests,” writes

The New York Times looks at how an Illinois town is reacting to the arrest and detention of a beloved immigrant in their community.

DEM WATCH: Perez wins DNC chair race

NBC’s Kailani Koenig wraps Tom Perez’s appearance on Meet the Press.

And Alex Seitz-Wald reports on the dramatic DNC chair election on Saturday.

The Washington Post offers analysis on why Keith Ellison lost.

One of us(!) interviewed Tom Perriello about his race and the future of the Democratic Party.