Lawmakers Seek Trump’s Intervention For 17-Year-Old American Jailed In Egypt

WASHINGTON ? A bipartisan trio of lawmakers from New Jersey wrote to Donald Trump on Friday urging him to raise the case of a 17-year-old American in an Egyptian prison during his trip abroad.

In their letter, Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo note that Trump will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. They also mention that Sissi and Trump recently spoke on the phone and that Trump received an invitation to Egypt during the call.

?We request that you raise [the] case with President Sissi at the summit and in any other subsequent discussions and work to secure his release,? the lawmakers wrote in a message provided exclusively to HuffPost.

Ahmed Hassan of Pomona, N.J., will turn 18 on Thursday. He has been held in crowded facilities with adult prisoners since Egyptian authorities detained him in December when he tried to prevent their arrest of his uncle, who was accused of a building code violation.

A HuffPost investigation last week found that Trump appears to have done little so far to push the Egyptian government on Hassan?s case or those of other Americans jailed there. A May 2 State Department response to a previous letter from Booker, Menendez and LoBiondo did not address the question of whether Trump or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had ever personally raised the issue with Sissi. In April, Trump did so for another jailed American, aid worker Aya Hijazi, and then celebrated his role in helping bring her home.

?Ahmed was beaten by police officers and thrown in a dark, crowded prison cell with adult prisoners. Additionally he was denied access to a lawyer until the day of his trial,? the lawmakers wrote. ?Sentencing a minor to a one-year sentence appears to be far out of proportion to what he has been accused. According to family members, Ahmed has described his experience in prison as ?scary? and says that he has been ?mistreated? because he is an American.?

According to public acknowledgments from their families, three U.S. citizens are being held by Egypt?s repressive government, which has jailed thousands of people in recent years. The lawmakers? letter notes that reports suggest that the number is as high as 20. Human rights activist Mohamed Soltan, a former prisoner himself, believes the figure has dropped to nine, he told HuffPost.

Trump has publicly embraced Sissi, a former military officer who gained power after a 2014 coup against Egypt?s first democratically elected president. Trump sees the Egyptian leader as an effective partner in the fight against Islamist terrorism; his aides have said they wish to talk about human rights issues only sparingly and, when necessary, to do so quietly. But experts say the partnership can survive U.S. criticism of Egyptian government excesses.

?We recognize the important of the United States-Egypt partnership and the vital role our two countries play in fighting extremism, preventing illicit smuggling, and enhancing regional stability,? the lawmakers wrote in the Friday letter. ?However, our assistance is not mutually exclusive to the demand for human rights and the rights of our citizens.?

Read the full letter below: 

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Rod Rosenstein ‘Stands By’ The Memo Trump Used To Justify Firing James Comey

WASHINGTON ? Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who offered a memo used to justify President Donald Trump?s termination of former FBI Director James Comey, told members of Congress on Friday that he?d discussed the need for new leadership at the FBI with Attorney General Jeff Sessions long before Trump fired Comey.

Rosenstein told members of Congress he knew that Trump planned to fire Comey before he wrote his memo. Rosenstein told members of the House of Representatives that he respected Comey, but believed his public handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?s emails went against DOJ regulations.

Comey?s July 5 press conference, Rosenstein said, ?was profoundly wrong and unfair both to the Department of Justice and Secretary Clinton.? The press conference ?explicitly usurped the role of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and the entire Department of Justice; it violated deeply engrained rules and traditions; and it guaranteed that some people would accuse the FBI of interfering in the election.?

Some members of Congress who attended the Friday briefing were disappointed by Rosenstein?s explanations.

The House meeting followed a similar briefing with members of the Senate on Thursday. Rosenstein has not yet testified publicly about his memo, but was reportedly upset that the White House tried to pin the initiation of Comey?s firing on him.

?I?m not at all reassured. I think it?s deeply disturbing,? Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said after the Senate meeting. ?We learned nothing, except the things that were designed to make himself look good.? 

Earlier this week, Rosenstein named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel on the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Rosenstein told members of Congress this week that he was ?not aware? of a request from Comey for more resources on the Russia investigation before he was fired. 

Here?s Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein?s statement to members of the House of Representatives about the removal of former FBI Director James Comey:

Good afternoon. I welcome the opportunity to discuss my role in the removal of FBI Director James Comey, although I know you understand that I will not discuss the special counsel?s ongoing investigation. Most importantly, I want to emphasize my unshakeable commitment to protecting the integrity of every federal criminal investigation. There never has been, and never will be, any political interference in any matter under my supervision in the United States Department of Justice.    

* * *

Before I discuss the events of the past two weeks, I want to provide some background about my previous relationship with former Director Comey. I have known Jim Comey since approximately 2002. In 2005, when Mr. Comey was Deputy Attorney General, he participated in selecting me to serve as a U.S. Attorney. As a federal prosecutor, he was a role model. His speeches about leadership and public service inspired me.

On July 5, 2016, Director Comey held his press conference concerning the federal grand jury investigation of Secretary Clinton?s emails. At the start of the press conference, the Director stated that he had ?not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice?. They do not know what I am about to say.?

Director Comey went on to declare that he would publicly disclose ?what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice.? He proceeded to disclose details about the evidence; assert that the American people ?deserve? to know details; declare that no ?reasonable? prosecutor would file charges; and criticize Secretary Clinton.

I thought the July 5 press conference was profoundly wrong and unfair both to the Department of Justice and Secretary Clinton. It explicitly usurped the role of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and the entire Department of Justice; it violated deeply engrained rules and traditions; and it guaranteed that some people would accuse the FBI of interfering in the election.

There are lawful and appropriate mechanisms to deal with unusual circumstances in which public confidence in the rule of law may be jeopardized. Such mechanisms preserve the traditional balance of power between investigators and prosecutors, and protect the rights of citizens.

Director Comey attended the Maryland U.S. Attorney?s Office training seminar on October 27, 2016, and gave a detailed explanation of his reasons for making public statements about the conclusion of the Secretary Clinton email investigation. I strongly disagreed with his analysis, but I believe that he made his decisions in good faith.

The next day, October 28, Mr. Comey sent his letter to the Congress announcing that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation. He subsequently has said that he believed he was obligated to send the letter. I completely disagree. He again usurped the authority of the Department of Justice, by sending the letter over the objection of the Department of Justice; flouted rules and deeply engrained traditions; and guaranteed that some people would accuse the FBI of interfering in the election.

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2017, Director Comey testified under oath about his public statements concerning the Secretary Clinton email investigation. I strongly disagreed with his explanations, particularly his assertion that maintaining confidentiality about criminal investigations constitutes concealment. Nonetheless, I respected him personally.

Former Department of Justice officials from both political parties have criticized Director Comey?s decisions.  It was not just an isolated mistake; the series of public statements about the email investigation, in my opinion, departed from the proper role of the FBI Director and damaged public confidence in the Bureau and the Department.

In one of my first meetings with then-Senator Jeff Sessions last winter, we discussed the need for new leadership at the FBI. Among the concerns that I recall were to restore the credibility of the FBI, respect the established authority of the Department of Justice, limit public statements and eliminate leaks.

On May 8, I learned that President Trump intended to remove Director Comey and sought my advice and input. Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader.

I wrote a brief memorandum to the Attorney General summarizing my longstanding concerns about Director Comey?s public statements concerning the Secretary Clinton email investigation. 

I chose the issues to include in my memorandum. 

Before finalizing the memorandum on May 9, I asked a senior career attorney on my staff to review it. That attorney is an ethics expert who has worked in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General during multiple administrations. He was familiar with the issues. I informed the senior attorney that the President was going to remove Director Comey, that I was writing a memorandum to the Attorney General summarizing my own concerns, and that I wanted to confirm that everything in my memorandum was accurate. He concurred with the points raised in my memorandum. I also asked several other career Department attorneys to review the memorandum and provide edits.

My memorandum is not a legal brief; these are not issues of law.

My memorandum is not a finding of official misconduct; the Inspector General will render his judgment about that issue in due course.

My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination.

My memorandum is not a survey of FBI morale or performance.

My memorandum is not a press release.

It is a candid internal memorandum about the FBI Director?s public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation.

I sent my signed memorandum to the Attorney General after noon on Tuesday, May 9.

I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it. 

* * *

Finally, I want to address the media claims that the FBI asked for additional resources for the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. I am not aware of any such request. Moreover, I consulted my staff and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and none of them recalls such a request.

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Ashley Graham Gets The ‘Baywatch’ Treatment In Sexy New Swim Ad

The swimsuit seen ?round the world just got even sexier, thanks to inclusive swimwear brand Swimsuits For All

Ashley Graham, Teyana Taylor and Niki Taylor star in its latest campaign, aptly titled #SummerIsHere. All three women are pictured wearing red lifeguard-inspired one-pieces, reminiscent of the one Pamela Anderson and the ?Baywatch? cast made famous in the late ?80s and early ?90s. 

The images, released Thursday, feature the three women, a Jet Ski and some hunky male lifeguards ? basically all the makings of a perfect swimsuit ad, if you ask us.

Squad goals. ?? @theashleygraham @nikilovesu @aitormateo @teyanataylor @dustylachowicz #SummerIsHere #SwimsuitsForAllSummer17

A post shared by Swimsuits For All (@swimsuitsforall) on

The ad even received approval from ?Baywatch? reboot star and potential future president Dwayne ?The Rock? Johnson. ?Teyana & Ashley are always welcome to our #Baywatch squad,? he tweeted, adding, ?(of course, I have my own selfish manly reasons). U lady?s look amazing!?

Swimsuits For All continues to knock it out of the park when it comes to inclusive advertising and product. Not to mention this looks like it was plain fun to shoot: 

Badass beach babes. @NikiLovesU @TeyanaTaylor @TheAshleyGraham #SummerIsHere #SwimsuitsForAllSummer17

A post shared by Swimsuits For All (@swimsuitsforall) on

What?s more, the swimsuit pictured is sold for $58.50 and, as part of Graham?s ongoing collaboration with the brand, comes in sizes 4 to 24.

Excuse us while we daydream about running down the beach in slow motion.

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Biden Reportedly Slams Clinton: ‘I Never Thought She Was The Correct Candidate’

Former Vice President Joe Biden had harsh words for former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday night.

?I never thought she was the correct candidate,? Biden said at the SALT conference in Las Vegas, according to Fusion reporter Hamilton Nolan. ?I thought I was the correct candidate.? 

TheStreet?s Ronald Orol, who was also at the SkyBridge Capital event, said the audience clapped at Biden?s comments. 

?No man or woman should announce for the presidency unless they genuinely believe that for that moment in the nation?s history they are the most qualified person to deal with the issues facing the country,? TheStreet quoted him as saying.

He also didn?t rule out running himself in 2020, according to multiple reports from the event. 

Biden has in the past expressed regret at not running for the Democratic nomination. In a speech in March, he said he was the ?best qualified.? 

?I had planned on running for president, and although it would have been a very difficult primary, I think I could have won. I don?t know, maybe not. But I thought I could have won,? he said, The Hill reported at the time.

And while he supported Clinton throughout the campaign, he has since been critical of her run, saying in December that she never knew why she was running. 

?I don?t think she ever really figured it out,? Biden said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Robin Wright: ‘Feminism Is Just Equality’

Robin Wright wants people to look up the definition of feminism. 

The 51-year-old actress sat down with Net-a-Porter?s weekly digital magazine The EDIT to discuss her upcoming role in ?Wonder Woman? for the magazine?s May cover story. Wright also talked about two of our favorite topics: feminism and the fight for equal pay.

When interviewer and Garbage singer Shirley Manson asked Wright if she?s a feminist, the actress responded simply: ?I do, but people need to look up the definition of that word again. Feminism is just equality.? Yep, it?s that simple. 

Last year, Wright made headlines for demanding the same pay that her ?House of Cards? co-star, Kevin Spacey, received. Spacey was reportedly making $500,000 per episode, while Wright made around $420,000 per episode.  

Wright explained why she was so upset when she found out she was not getting equal pay. 

?I was told that I was getting equal pay and I believed them, and I found out recently that it?s not true,? Wright told Manson, adding that her ?House of Cards? character Claire and Spacey?s Francis hold equal star power on the show. 

?Claire and Francis are equivalent as far as their power, their union and the plot,? she said. ?I may not have as many scenes or words as Francis, but Claire doesn?t need to verbalize as much. Francis is an orator, a poet, a demonstrator. Claire is an [ego] that sits in the back and directs him, but they are partners on the same plane.? 

Head over to The EDIT to read the full May cover story. 

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