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First Read's Morning Clips: Tillerson Heads to Moscow

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: Tillerson
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the State Department on March 23.Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images

TRUMP AGENDA: Tillerson heads to Russia

From the Washington Post: “Officials in the Trump administration on Sunday demanded that Russia stop supporting the Syrian government or face a further deterioration in its relations with the United States. Signaling the focus of talks that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to have in Moscow this week, officials said that Russia, in propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, bears at least partial responsibility for Wednesday’s chemical attack on villagers in Idlib province.”

And from the AP: “Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are gathering Monday for a meeting given urgency by the chemical attack in Syria and the U.S. military response, with participants aiming to pressure Russia to end its support for President Bashar Assad.”

And from the New York Times: “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson is taking a hard line against Russia on the eve of his first diplomatic trip to Moscow, calling the country “incompetent” for allowing Syria to hold on to chemical weapons and accusing Russia of trying to influence elections in Europe using the same methods it employed in the United States. Mr. Tillerson’s comments, made in interviews aired on Sunday, were far more critical of the Russian government than any public statements by President Trump, who has been an increasingly lonely voice for better ties with Russia. They seemed to reflect Mr. Tillerson’s expectation, which he has expressed privately to aides and members of Congress, that the American relationship with Russia is already reverting to the norm: one of friction, distrust and mutual efforts to undermine each other’s reach.”

Here’s NBC’s Kailani Koenig on Graham on “f you” moment.

POLITICO looks at the shift in Trump’s foreign policy staff.

From NBC’s Pete Williams, on Neil Gorsuch: “The U.S. Supreme Court term is nearly over, but the influence of the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, is likely to have an immediate effect on one of the most important cases yet to be heard and on helping select cases the court will take up next…. The court hears the final 13 cases of the term during the last two weeks in April, when it will be back at full strength for the first time since Antonin Scalia died 14 months ago. Gorsuch will not be able to vote on cases that were argued before he arrived at the court, but he may have a decisive role to play in an important freedom of religion case to be heard April 19.”

The Washington Post has a lengthy look at how Steve Bannon turned anti-Clinton sentiment into a lucrative business.

Democrats are raising the alarm over Trump’s tax plan, the New York Times writes.

CONGRESS: No regrets

Democrats don’t have any regrets after the nuclear option showdown last week, POLITICO writes.

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell looks at the hangover in the Senate after the breakdown of comity over the Supreme Court contest.

OFF TO THE RACES: Betty Price on the airwaves

GA-06: Don’t miss Alex Seitz-Wald’slook at how Trump is looming over the special election.

The New York Times on the coming race in Georgia: “Mr. Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has blurred the bright-line ideological distinctions that defined the right for the past eight years. Driven more by personal loyalty and a ravenous appetite to win than by any fixed political philosophy, the deal-cutting president has been received warmly by some mainstream conservatives. At the same time, even ideological hard-liners who share the president’s pugilism but not his pragmatism have stuck by him because Mr. Trump has made the right enemies — and gleefully ridiculed them with public insults rarely heard from a president… These loyalties have upended the Tea Party-versus-establishment divide, which has dominated fratricidal primary seasons since 2010 but increasingly has the air of fins on the back of a car, a quaint relic from an earlier era. With Mr. Trump in charge, the political market for purity on the right has been devalued.”

Tom Price’s wife is hitting the airwaves. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “State Rep. Betty Price took to the airwaves on Monday to urge conservative voters to defend her husband’s U.S. House seat, as antsy Republicans aim to prevent a surging Democrat from notching an upset victory. The Roswell Republican is featured on radio spots airing through the April 18 election calling on supporters to ensure a “strong conservative representative” succeeds her husband, Tom Price, who is now Donald Trump’s health secretary.”

MT-AL: Rob Quist says of Montana Democrats and Republicans “We agree on 80% of the issues, maybe even more.”