The Note's Must-Reads for Friday, March 7, 2014

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Janine Elliot

PRESIDENT OBAMA ABC News' Mary Bruce: " Oops - Obama Shares His 'R-S-P-E-C-T' for the 'Women of Soul'" President Obama has nothing but "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" for the women of soul, even if he accidentally misspelled the title of Aretha Franklin's signature anthem. In an "oops" moment tonight, the president dropped a letter when paying tribute to the one and only Franklin at the White House concert series event, "In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul." "When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her, she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans, and women, and then everyone who felt marginalized because of what they looked like or who they loved. They wanted some respect," the president said. LINK

UKRAINE USA Today's David Jackson: " Obama calls Putin, proposes solution to Ukraine dispute" President Obama urged Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a one-hour phone call Thursday to pursue a diplomatic solution to his military incursion into Crimea, including direct talks between Russia and Ukraine with outside observers. Obama also proposed a pullback of troops to pre-existing Russian bases, international monitors to protect the rights of all populations in Ukraine, and support for new Ukrainian elections in May, the White House said in a statement about the conversation with Putin. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Lukas I. Alpert and Margaret Coker: " Ukraine's Crimea Raises Tension by Setting Secession Vote" Crimea's Moscow-backed government voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia and accelerated a snap referendum to ratify the move, a dramatic escalation of tension that pushed the West closer to imposing sanctions if Russian troops don't withdraw. The scheduling of the vote for March 16 means that Crimea could be absorbed into Russia in a matter of weeks. It also means the referendum could be held while the region is under de facto Russian occupation-with no opportunity for a free and fair campaign. LINK

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON The Washington Times' Jim McElhatton: " Bill Clinton cashes in on nonprofit hospital" Bill Clinton accepted a $225,000 speaking fee from the nonprofit Washington Hospital Center smack in the middle of two big rounds of layoffs in 2012 - one of a number of tax-exempt organizations that have paid big money to hear the former president talk. The $225,000 payment wasn't made public by the hospital on its annual Internal Revenue Service forms, but rather appeared among dozens of lucrative speeches by Mr. Clinton reported on his wife's final ethics filing as secretary of state. LINK

Rep DARRELL ISSA The Hill's Mike Lillis and Bernie Becker: " Issa hands Dems the mic" House Republicans were thrust onto the defensive Thursday as Democrats waged a multi-pronged attack against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and his aggressive leadership style atop the House Oversight Committee.Issa came under attack for killing the microphone on Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the panel's senior Democrat, at the end of a heated hearing on political targeting at the Internal Revenue Service. LINK

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake: " Issa Apologizes To Cummings" House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) apologized Thursday to his committee's ranking Democratic member for cutting off his microphone at the end of a hearing Wednesday, according to a local report. Issa told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he personally apologized to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). His apology comes after the House earlier Thursday voted down a motion to censure the chairman for his treatment of Cummings. LINK

Politico's John Bresnahan: " Darrell Issa Apologizes To Elijah Cummings" Controversial GOP Rep. Darrell Issa has apologized to the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee following an ugly incident during a Wednesday hearing on alleged IRS abuses. Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had the microphone for Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings cut off during the middle of a statement by the Maryland lawmaker. The move infuriated Cummings and other Democrats, who went to the House floor on Thursday with a motion condemning Issa's actions. LINK

The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman: " Issa Hands Democrats Weapon To Use On Him" Since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Representative Darrell Issa has tried gamely to play the thoughtful, even-tempered investigator, even as he has accused the Obama administration of the most heinous crimes: thuggery, political witch hunts, even homicide, in the case of Benghazi. But when on Wednesday he silenced the microphone of his committee's ranking Democrat with a finger dragged dramatically across his throat, Mr. Issa may have given House Democrats - a minority largely screaming into the wind - an opportunity to pivot from Republican accusations and paint him as an overzealous inquisitor. LINK

CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ACTION CONFERENCE The Los Angeles Times' Maeve Reston: " Conservative gathering welcomes Chris Christie" Gov. Chris Christie arrived at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday at one of the most difficult moments of his political career: The investigations into his administration's mammoth traffic jam continue, his poll numbers have plunged, and the socially conservative GOP voters who dominate this gathering have always been his biggest hurdle in a potential quest for the presidency. But with surprisingly expansive comments on his opposition to abortion, the New Jersey governor drew a warm reception before a group that did not even invite him last year, a slight ascribed to organizers' criticism of his conservative credentials. LINK

Boston Globe's Michael Barbaro: " Chris Christie tells GOP to update image" A measured Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, returning to the national political spotlight at a convention of conservative activists Thursday, chided Washington for its political dysfunction, played up his social conservatism, and urged the Republican Party to broaden its electoral appeal, warning that "we've got to start to talk about what we are for and not what we are against." Christie, long a proponent of pragmatism over ideology, told the Conservative Political Action Conference that "we don't get to govern if we don't win." LINK

The New York Daily News' Joseph Straw and Leslie Larson: " Mitch McConnell takes the stage at CPAC with a rifle, the NRA Lifetime Achievement Award, for Sen. Tom Coburn" The Senate's top Republican - under the gun in his bid for a sixth term - brandished some cold steel of his own Thursday at a top conservative conference. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky surprised the thousands gathered for the year's Conservative Political Action Conference when he took the stage brandishing an antique-style muzzle-loading rifle and hoisted it above his head. The minority leader was paying tribute to retiring GOP colleague Dr. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma - and the gun was an NRA Lifetime Achievement Award gift for the chamber's outgoing budget hawk, who's recovering from prostate cancer. LINK

MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT ABC News' Luis Martinez: " Army's Top Sexual Assault Prosecutor Accused of Sexual Assault" The Army's top prosecutor in charge of sexual assault cases has been suspended from his position because he is under investigation for allegedly groping and assaulting a female lawyer on his staff. The news came on the same day that the Senate voted down a controversial proposal that would have removed the military chain of command from referring sexual assault cases for prosecution to specially trained military prosecutors. A defense official confirmed that Lt. Col. Joseph "Jay" Morse has been suspended from his post as the chief of the Army's Trial Counsel Assistance Program, which supervises a team of Army attorneys who prosecute sexual assault cases. LINK

Politico's Darren Samuealsohn, Juana Summers and Anna Palmer: " Kirsten Gillibrand's Sexual Assault Bill Derailed" Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand came up short Thursday in her yearlong campaign to overhaul military sexual-assault policies, falling five votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. The New York Democrat's bill, which would have removed the chain of command from prosecuting sexual assaults and other major military crimes, was derailed in the Senate on a 55-45 vote, closing out one chapter in a debate that divided the Senate but not along typical partisan lines. Ten Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and 2016 presidential hopefuls Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, backed Gillibrand's controversial chain-of-command bill. LINK

The New York Times' Helene Cooper: " Senate Rejects Blocking Military Commanders From Sexual Assault Cases" The Senate on Thursday rejected a controversial bipartisan bill to remove military commanders from decisions over the prosecution of sexual assault cases in the armed forces, delivering a defeat to advocacy groups that argued that wholesale changes are necessary to combat an epidemic of rapes and sexual assaults in the military. The measure, pushed by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, received 55 votes - five short of the 60 votes needed for advancement to a floor vote - after a fellow Democrat, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, led the charge to block its advancement. The vote came after a debate on the Senate floor filled with drama and accusations that Ms. Gillibrand and her allies were misguided. LINK

Bloomberg's David Lerman: " Senate Blocks Taking Sex Assault Outside Military Command" The U.S. Senate blocked a measure sought by victims of sexual assaults in the military to take away the ability of commanders to prosecute those cases. By a vote of 55-45, the Senate today fell short of the 60 votes required to act on the measure by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, that would turn over such cases to independent military prosecutors outside the alleged victim's chain of command. "The evidence shows removing this authority from our commanders would weaken, not strengthen, our response to this urgent problem," said Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which rejected Gillibrand's proposal last year at the urging of top Pentagon leaders. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Chris Christie Slams Obama, Media in CPAC Speech" LINK " Donald Trump Kills Off Jimmy Carter (Rhetorically)" LINK " CPAC Hot Seat: 5 Questions With Christine O'Donnell" LINK " CPAC Hot Seat: 6 Questions With Rick Perry" LINK

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