The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, June 12, 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, Jordan Mazza and Cristian Roscher

BERGDAHL The Wall Street Journal's Michael R. Crittenden and Julian E. Barnes: " Hagel Says U.S. Had to Move Quickly on Bergdahl" Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday defended the Obama administration's decision to rescue Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, aggressively deflecting criticism from lawmakers about secrecy surrounding the May 31 prisoner exchange. The House Armed Services Committee spent more than three hours pressing Mr. Hagel for additional details on the exchange of Sgt. Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. LINK

IRAQ The New York Times' Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt: " Iraq Said to Seek U.S. Strikes on Militants" As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials. But Iraq's appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011. LINK

ERIC CANTOR ABC News' Matthew Dowd: " Why Eric Cantor's Big Loss Isn't Really That Surprising" Many of us have described House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning upset loss in the Republican primary as a political earthquake that will send a tsunami across the Washington, D.C., landscape. Folks have said this is a surprising disruptive force in our country's politics. LINK

USA Today's Martha T. Moore: " Cantor departure may sidetrack GOP rebranding effort" Eric Cantor's effort to rebrand Republicans from deficit hawks to policy innovators was intended to help the GOP recapture the White House in 2016. But his push didn't even make it through the midterm elections. LINK

The Hill's Russell Berman: " Cantor upbeat on stepping down" House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Wednesday announced he would step down from his leadership post at the end of July, cutting short his tenure less than a day after he lost his re-election bid to a little-known primary challenger. The move cemented an abrupt and shocking fall for a Republican star widely seen as the next Speaker of the House, and it officially launched a shake-up in the party hierarchy that began within hours after Cantor's defeat to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat. Elections to replace Cantor will be held on June 19, a week from Thursday. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro & Michael Memoli: " Eric Cantor's loss highlights GOP divisions, suggests more gridlock" House Republicans were in disarray Wednesday after the shocking defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a tea party novice brought the party's divisions back to the spotlight and further complicated an already difficult path for legislation. After the government shutdowns and standoffs of last year, the House had been enjoying a period of calm as Republican leaders sought to keep attention focused on the November midterm election. They are favored to hold their House majority and hope to gain control of the Senate. LINK

The New York Daily News' Adam Edelman & Dan Friedman: " Rep. Eric Cantor to step down as majority leader July 31" Rep. Eric Cantor announced Wednesday he would step down as House majority leader at the end of July, following his stunning primary loss Tuesday night to a little-known Tea Party challenger. "While I intend to serve out my term, effective July 31, I will be stepping down as majority leader," a somber Cantor said at a Wednesday press conference. "It is with great humility that I do so." LINK

Politico's Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan, Anna Palmer & Lauren French: " Kevin McCarthy makes his move" On June 19, Kevin McCarthy was scheduled to headline a birthday fundraiser for his friend Eric Cantor on the rooftop of 101 Constitution, a swank office building with sweeping views of the Capitol. Instead, that day will be all about McCarthy. It's on that Thursday that McCarthy will run to replace Cantor as majority leader in a race that will reshape the House Republican leadership. LINK

The Washington Times' S.A. Miller: " Eric Cantor's Disconcerting Defeat Pushes Republicans To The Right" House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's surprising defeat sent shockwaves across Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with lawmakers from both parties saying it has doomed immigration reform this year and may derail several other major bills. House Republicans will move to the right and harden conservative stances to avoid the fate suffered by Mr. Cantor, they said, which will make it even harder to forge already-difficult bipartisan compromises needed to send major legislation to President Obama's desk. LINK

The Boston Globe's Matt Viser: " GOP Looks For Lessons In Eric Cantor's Loss" A little more than a year ago, House majority leader Eric Cantor arrived on the campus of Harvard University and declared that he, like his party, had been doing some "soul searching." In the wake of Mitt Romney's defeat in the 2012 presidential election, Cantor said, the Republican Party "needs to do a better job at getting to know different constituencies." He thought he had learned the lesson - but his constituents believed otherwise. LINK

Bloomberg's Daniel Kruger: " Cantor Defeat Puts Markets On Guard For Debt Limit Gridlock" The primary election loss of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who helped broker deals to end standoffs on the federal debt ceiling in October and February, has investors concerned that policy makers may find future agreements more difficult to reach. Cantor was defeated by Tea Party-backed challenger David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, who had been critical of Cantor's willingness to compromise on issues ranging from the debt limit to the Obama administration's signature health-care law. LINK

The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold, Rosalind Helderman & Jenna Portnoy: " What went wrong for Eric Cantor?" Last month in Richmond, Eric Cantor stepped to a microphone in a hotel ballroom full of Republican activists from his home district. He was clearly ticked off. Cantor's wife and two of his kids were there. His mother was there. His mother-in-law was there. And right there in front of them all, a little-known professor from a little college had just called Cantor a bad conservative. The normally cool Cantor was about to strike back - showing a pique he has turned on the president but rarely shows in public. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Eric Cantor Stepping Down as Majority Leader" 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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