The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, April 17, 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

UKRAINE Wall Street Journal's Carol E. Lee and Colleen McCain Nelson: " For Obama, Standoff With Moscow Jumbles Plans at Home and Abroad" The Ukraine crisis and Russia's newly combative stance have scrambled the world map around which Barack Obama shaped his foreign-policy doctrine and stand to alter the arc of his presidency. The crisis is distracting attention from Mr. Obama's short-term economic agenda in a vital election year, and it has created political complications as U.S. lawmakers pressure him to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin more forcefully. LINK

The Washington Post's Katie Zezima: " Obama: Russia Doesn't Want 'Any Kind Of Military Confrontation With Us'" Russia doesn't want a military confrontation with the United States, President Obama said Wednesday. In an interview with Major Garrett of CBS News, Obama said Russia must recognize that Ukraine, part of which it annexed last month, is a sovereign nation that should be able to chart its own course. "They're not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us, understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians. We don't need a war," Obama said, according to a transcript of the interview. A Russian fighter jet made numerous passes close to a U.S. warship in the Black Sea this week, according to the U.S. military. LINK

HEALTH CARE The Los Angeles Times' Noam Levey: " Health insurance gains since last fall hit 12 million, survey shows" President Obama's health law has led to an even greater increase in health coverage than previously estimated, according to new Gallup survey data, which suggest that about 12 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage since last fall. That is millions more than Gallup found in March and suggests that as many as 4 million people signed up for some kind of insurance in the last several weeks as the first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act drew to a close. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Michael R. Crittenden: " GOP Fall Strategy: Slam Health Law" Republican leaders are telling the party's House members that persistent criticism of the federal health-care law is the best path to victory this fall regardless of how the law's implementation evolves ahead of the November elections. Leaders of the congressional wing of the party say opposition to the Affordable Care Act will resonate with the voters most likely to go to the polls, and they are encouraging House members, currently at home for a two-week recess, to keep up their attacks. LINK

NEW JERSEY Gov CHRIS CHRISTIE ABC News' Serena Marshall: " Lawyers Who Cleared Christie donated to RGA Before Report Released" The law firm that wrote the Chris Christie-sponsored report clearing the governor of any wrongdoing in the New Jersey bridge scandal made a sizable donation to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie heads, days before the report's release. The law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher donated $10,000 to the RGA nine days before it released a report - paid for by New Jersey taxpayers - blaming September's lane closures to the George Washington Bridge solely on aides and allies and pinned no responsibility on the governor, as reported today in The Record of North Jersey. LINK

IMMIGRATION ABC News' John Parkinson: " Obama and Cantor Clash on Immigration Overhaul " President Obama phoned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today to implore the GOP's floor guardian to take up the Senate's comprehensive immigration legislation, but judging by Cantor's response, there's no way that is happening. "The president called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together," Cantor, R-Va., stated. "After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue." LINK

The Hill's Russell Berman: " Cantor blasts Obama over phone call on immigration reform" President Obama called House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to prod Republicans to bring up immigration reform, but the conversation apparently did not go well. Cantor issued a blistering statement afterward, criticizing Obama for calling him just after delivering what he called "a partisan statement" that indicated "no desire to work together" on immigration, a top priority for Obama that House Republicans have largely ignored. LINK

Politico's Seung Min Kim: " President Obama, Eric Cantor Talk Immigration - Sort Of" President Barack Obama spoke with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor about immigration reform on Wednesday, hours after the president sharply criticized House Republicans for stalling an overhaul this year. But the White House says Obama was just trying to wish Cantor, who is Jewish, a happy Passover. The Wednesday phone call, disclosed in a statement from Cantor, underscored just how far House Republicans and the White House are from an agreement on rewriting the nation's immigration laws this year. LINK

IRS The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits" IRS emails released Wednesday show that just before the tea party targeting scandal was revealed last year, Lois G. Lerner and her colleagues at the tax agency were talking with the Justice Department about making examples out of nonprofit groups that they felt were violating campaign laws by playing political roles. The emails, obtained by Judicial Watch, also show that Ms. Lerner was reluctant to face questions from Congress even before her first hearing, at which she asserted her right to remain silent. It was an indication that she distrusted Republican motives from the start. LINK

2016 ELECTIONS Bloomberg's Jonathan Allen: " Mike Pence, A Koch Favorite, Run For President" Mike Pence has spent more than a decade courting the deep-pocketed small-government cadre that has come to dominate Republican politics: The Koch brothers, the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation. He turned their heads by opposing President George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education bill in 2001; captured their imagination by leading a revolt against the expansion of Medicare into prescription drug coverage in 2003; and won their loyalty with a 2004 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference that took the GOP to task for "veering off course" into "big-government Republicanism." LINK

The New York Times' Manny Fernandez: " With Eyes On 2016, Perry Is Mired In The Past" The last nine months of Rick Perry's tenure as the longest-serving governor of Texas were supposed to be a political victory lap. Greg Abbott, the Republican state attorney general, and Wendy Davis, the Democratic state senator, both of whom are vying to replace Mr. Perry, have been sparring across Texas. Meanwhile Mr. Perry has been traveling the country and the world promoting the robust Texas economy and bolstering his national profile as he considers another run for president in 2016. LINK

FORMER NYC Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ABC News' Arlette Saenz: " Can $50 Million buy Michael Bloomberg gun control?" Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has invested millions of his own fortune into the push for stricter gun laws. Now he's upping the ante by pledging up to $50 million this year alone to a newly formed gun control organization that hopes to rival the influence of the powerful National Rifle Association. Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has joined forces with Moms Demand Action under a new umbrella group, Everytown for Gun Safety. The group's goals are to expand background checks at the state and federal levels and drive one million gun control supporters to the voting booths in November. LINK

USA Today's Fredreka Schouten: " Bloomberg pledges $50 million to fight NRA" Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million this year to build a grass-roots network to reduce gun violence. The new initiative, first reported by The New York Times, will focus on expanding background checks for gun purchasers at the state and national levels. Two gun-control groups Bloomberg currently supports, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, will join a new group named Everytown for Gun Safety, the paper reported. Women will be the focus of the outreach effort. LINK

The New York Daily News' Rocco Parascandola, Jennifer Fermino: " Ex-mayoral candidate Ceceilia Berkowitz taken to Bellevue for stalking Michael Bloomberg" A failed fringe candidate for mayor who appears to be obsessed with Michael Bloomberg was hauled off to Bellevue on Wednesday after showing up at the ex-mayor's office and acting irrationally, police sources said. Ceceilia Berkowitz, 35, was placed under psychiatric observation at the hospital after Bloomberg's security detail spotted her at Bloomberg LP headquarters in Midtown, the sources said. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO: " Ukranian Crisis: Troops Defecting to Pro-Russia Side" LINK " Mitt Romney's 2012 Road Trip to Wawa" LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK ABC News Politics: LINK George Stephanopoulos' Blog: LINK ABC News on Twitter: @ThisWeekABC | @ABCPolitics ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News Apps: LINK ABC News YouTube: LINK

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