The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, April 29, 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' Will Cantine, Janine Elliot and Jordan Mazza

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND APPROVAL RATINGS ABC News' Gary Langer: " Public Preference For A GOP Congress Marks A New Low In Obama's Approval" Weary of waiting for an economic recovery worth its name, a frustrated American public has sent Barack Obama's job approval rating to a career low - with a majority in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll favoring a Republican Congress to act as a check on his policies. Registered voters by 53-39 percent in the national survey say they'd rather see the Republicans in control of Congress as a counterbalance to Obama's policies than a Democratic-led Congress to help support him. It was similar in fall 2010, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and gained six Senate seats. LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill: " Post-ABC News Poll Shows Democrats At Risk In November As Obama's Approval Rating Falls" Democrats face serious obstacles as they look to the November elections, with President Obama's approval rating at a new low and a majority of voters saying they prefer a Congress in Republican hands to check the president's agenda, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Obama's approval rating fell to 41 percent, down from 46 percent through the first three months of the year and the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC News polls. Just 42 percent approve of his handling of the economy, 37 percent approve of how he is handling the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and 34 percent approve of his handling of the situation involving Ukraine and Russia. LINK

RUSSIA // UKRAINE The New York Times' Peter Baker: " U.S. Expands Sanctions, Adding Holdings Of Russians On Putin's Financial Circle" The United States added new sanctions against Russia on Monday, expanding the list of targets but concentrating on the myriad holdings of four billionaires viewed as part of President Vladimir V. Putin's financial circle. Accusing Russia of failing to live up to its agreement to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, the Obama administration took aim at 17 banks, energy companies, investment accounts and other firms controlled by the four men, in what amounted to an attempt to constrain the assets available to Mr. Putin's close associates and perhaps to the president himself. LINK

The Wall Street Journal: " Kerry Sees Ukraine Crisis As Uniquely Putin's" Secretary of State John Kerry has been thinking about, talking through and wrestling with the Ukraine crisis for weeks, but he still grasps for words to describe the motivations of the man at its center: Russian President Vladimir Putin. "You almost feel that he's creating his own reality, and his own sort of world, divorced from a lot of what's real on the ground for all those people, including people in his own country," Mr. Kerry said in an interview late Monday. LINK

USA Today's Susan Page and Kendall Breitman: " Poll: Americans Support Sanctions, Not Arms For Ukraine" Americans support tighter economic sanctions on Moscow, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds, but they oppose by more than 2-1 the idea of sending arms or military supplies to the Ukrainian government to bolster its defenses against Russian forces. The survey was released Monday as the White House announced a freeze on assets and bans on travel targeting seven Russian officials and 17 firms close to President Vladimir Putin. Additional restrictions were imposed on 13 other Russian companies, and the administration moved to block some high-tech exports to Russia. LINK

The Hill's Justin Sink: " Hit Putin, Republicans tell Obama" President Obama on Monday came under increasing pressure from Republicans in Congress to bring down the hammer on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine. Their calls came after Obama announced a new round of sanctions that will hit members of Putin's inner circle, including seven Russian government officials and 17 companies. "The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally," Obama said at a press conference in the Philippines. "The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in Ukraine could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul and to encourage him to actually walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to diplomatically resolving the crisis in Ukraine." LINK

The Washington Times' Dave Boyer: " Obama admits uncertainty on Russian sanctions but quick to defend foreign policy" President Obama and European allies of the U.S. announced a string of sanctions against Russian officials and corporations over the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, as Mr. Obama launched a lengthy rebuttal to critics over his handling of the confrontation with Moscow and his overall approach to foreign policy. The sanctions, announced as Mr. Obama neared the end of a four-nation tour of Asia, stopped well short of the broad economic punishment that Ukrainian officials and some of Mr. Obama's domestic critics have said is necessary to get the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin. LINK

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY The Hill's Justin Sink: " Kerry Walks Back 'Apartheid' Remark" Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that he "would have chosen a different word" after telling a closed-door meeting that Israel risked becoming an "apartheid state" if it was unable to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians. "I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution," Kerry said in a statement. LINK

The New York Daily News' Oren Yaniv: " Kerry Tries To 'Rewind The Tape' On 'Apartheid State' Israel Comments" Facing a flurry of criticism, Secretary of State Kerry backtracked Monday from his warning that Israel might become an "apartheid state" - but he continued to push for a two-state solution."If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state, and two nations and two peoples living side-by-side in peace and security, is through a two-state solution," he said in a statement Monday. LINK

The Washington Times' Jessica Chasmar: " Jewish Leaders Blast John Kerry For Israel 'Apartheid' Comments'" Jewish leaders are fuming over remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who cautioned that Israel risks becoming an apartheid state if a two-state solution cannot be reached. Mr. Kerry told senior officials during a closed meeting on Friday that a two-state solution is the "only real alternative" for Israel and the Palestinian territories, "because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens, or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state," The Daily Beast first reported. LINK

Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere: " John Kerry Backpedals On Israel 'Apartheid State' Comment" Secretary of State John Kerry, under fire for warning that Israel risks becoming "an apartheid state" in the absence of a peace deal, released a statement Monday evening pushing back hard. "I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes," Kerry said in a release put out by the State Department. "… If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution." The tape in question was published by the Daily Beast on Sunday - a recording of Kerry's comments to a meeting of the Trilateral Commission on Friday in which he lamented the breakdown of talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. LINK

REP. MICHAEL GRIMM The Hill's Bernie Becker: " Rep. Grimm Steps Down From Committee" Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) stepped down from the House Financial Services Committee on Monday after being indicted by federal authorities. Grimm, in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), made clear that he hopes that his absence on the powerful committee will be temporary. "Upon a successful resolution of pending legal matters my intention is to resume said position as an active member of the committee," wrote Grimm, who was indicted on 20 counts related to a Manhattan restaurant he once owned. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Michael A. Memoli and Richard A. Serrano: " Rep. Michael Grimm Is Indicted On Fraud Charges, Says He's A 'Moral Man'" Even as Rep. Michael G. Grimm of New York faced charges of defrauding the federal government and pleaded not guilty Monday, he vowed to seek reelection.Grimm was charged with fraudulently underreporting more than $1 million in sales and wages at a Manhattan fast-food restaurant he once co-owned and operated. LINK

The New York Daily News': John Marzulli and Dareh Gregorian: " Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm Hit With 20-Count Indictment On Federal Fraud, Tax Charges" Rep. Michael Grimm cooked the books at an Upper East Side restaurant he owned to conceal more than $1 million in revenue and wages from the taxman, prosecutors charged Monday. The Staten Island Republican, a former FBI agent, was hit with a battery of federal charges - including wire and mail fraud, perjury, hiring undocumented immigrants and filing false tax returns - in a blistering 20-count indictment. Grimm surrendered to FBI agents and was arraigned in Brooklyn federal court. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO "Obama, LA Clippers' Players React To Owner's Racist Rant" LINK " President Obama Directs Latest Sanctions At Vladimir Putin" LINK " President Obama Imposes New Sanctions On Russia" LINK

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