The Note's Must-Reads for Monday, May 26, 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 and J anine Elliot

PRESIDENT OBAMA ABC News' Ann Compton: " Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan, Pledges to Keep Troops There Past 2014" President Obama addressed troops in Afghanistan on Sunday, thanking them for their service and pledging to keep a "limited" American force there after 2014 during a surprise trip from the White House to Bagram Airfield overnight. "I'm here on a single mission. That is to thank you for your extraordinary service. I thank you as your commander-in-chief because you inspire me," Obama said. "Your willingness to step forward and serve in a time of war and say, 'Send me,' is the reason the United States stays strong and free." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Carol Lee: " Obama Begins New Foreign-Policy Push" President Barack Obama, in a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday, will launch a new attempt to define a foreign-policy doctrine that he believes is misunderstood and that his critics say lacks definition. Mr. Obama will seek to explain how he envisions using U.S. power in the world to confront some of the most pressing foreign-policy crises, including the civil war in Syria and unrest in Ukraine, White House officials said. He is expected to advocate for his view of a limited U.S. military role, instead favoring diplomacy, while proposing more American involvement in Syria. LINK

The Hill's Mario Trujillo: " Obama makes surprise visit to Afghanistan amid VA scandal" Obama rallied U.S. troops during a speech vowing to bring a "responsible end" to the war by the end of the year. "For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan," he told nearly 3,000 troops. His surprise trip on Memorial Day weekend came as the president and the Department of Veterans Affairs face criticism of long wait times and mismanagement in the VA that could have led to deaths at some clinics in the United States. LINK

Bloomberg's Margaret Talev and David Lerman: " Obama Nears Decision on Troop Levels in Afghanistan" After a surprise trip to Afghanistan yesterday to thank U.S. troops, President Barack Obama is nearing a decision on how and when to let them come home. Obama may offer details on the withdrawal of most military operations as early as this week, including how many troops - if any - would be kept in Afghanistan after this year to help train local forces and conduct counterterrorism operations. LINK

The Washington Post's Scott Wilson: " Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan" President Obama arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday for an ­unannounced visit to mark ­Memorial Day with U.S. troops, now in the final months of America's longest war, and to begin final discussions over the size of the U.S. force that will remain beyond the end of the year. Inside a cavernous hangar with a tennis-court-size American flag as a backdrop, Obama told a raucous audience of about 3,000 U.S. troops that the American public "stands in awe of you," grateful for their service and united in support of veterans as they return home. LINK

Politico's Edward Issa-Dovere: " President Obama: Done in Afghanistan by Year's End" Sandwiched between a week of outrage over Veterans Affairs mismanagement and a major foreign policy speech to West Point graduates Wednesday, President Barack Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan on Sunday included his pledge to lead "a responsible end" to all American combat operations there by year's end. Standing in a bomber jacket on stage at a rally with some of the 32,000 troops still stationed in the country, Obama told them that they would be coming home soon, with Afghan forces finally ready to take over responsibility and security. LINK

The New York Times' Matthew Rosenberg and Michael D. Shear: " Obama Makes Surprise Trip to Afghanistan" The last time President Obama visited Afghanistan, he came to sign a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai. But that was two years ago. When Mr. Obama returned to Afghanistan on Sunday, conspicuously absent from the agenda was a meeting with Mr. Karzai, who has staunchly opposed an enduring American presence here. LINK

UKRAINE Politico's Edward Issa-Dovere: " Obama Talks Ukraine, Swipes at Vladimir Putin" President Barack Obama used a statement congratulating Ukrainians on their elections Sunday to again voice frustration and displeasure with Russian actions in the country. Referring both to "Russian-backed separatist groups [who] sought to disenfranchise entire regions" and "Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea," Obama called the presidential elections an important step forward. LINK

The New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew Roth: " In East, Separatists and Fear Stop Voters" Standing in a small park and holding a Soviet flag, Nikolai Brilyov, an enthusiastic member of the breakaway People's Republic of Donetsk, spent Sunday immersed in civic duties. There was an oligarch to run out of town, and political rallies to attend. None of it, however, included voting in the presidential election. "That happened in Ukraine," he explained. "We don't live there anymore." LINK

WHITE HOUSE USA Today's William Cummings: " White House blows cover of CIA chief in Afghanistan" The White House accidentally blew the cover of the top CIA officer in Afghanistan Saturday, when his name and title were released in an e-mail sent to reporters who traveled with President Obama on his surprise visit to Bagram Air Field. The CIA officer's identity was released as part of a list of U.S. officials who were attending a military briefing with Obama at Bagram, the Washington Post reported. The individual was identified as "Chief of Station," a term used for the top spy in a country, according to the Post. LINK

HILLARY CLINTON The Washington Times' Ben Wolfgang: " One-percenter: Wealth of Hillary Clinton complicates image as populist champion" When your own minimum wage reportedly is in the neighborhood of $200,000 a speech, it might be difficult to sell yourself as the populist champion of the working class. In recent weeks, Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun a calculated transition from respected diplomat to fierce advocate for the 99 percent, using a "haves versus have-nots" message to build support among progressives who are desperate for a strong voice to battle Wall Street, protect entitlement programs such as Social Security and promote income equality. LINK

SANTA BARBARA RAMPAGE The Washington Post's Robert Costa: " GOP's Rep. King Calls for More Background Checks in Wake of Calif. Killings" Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said Sunday that Friday's deadly rampage near the University of California at Santa Barbara underscores why expanded background checks for firearm sales are needed and said he hopes to pursue legislation to enhance mental health screening. "This tragedy demonstrates once again the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill," King said in an interview with The Washington Post. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Obama: 'Our Obligations To You, Your Families Have Only Just Begun'" LINK " 'This Week' Heroes Reunite" LINK " 'This Week' Mass Shooting in Isla Vista" LINK " 'This Week' Memorial Day Interview with General Dempsey" LINK " 'This Week' Cyber Spying Alert" 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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