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GOP rips Brittney Griner deal for stranding Paul Whelan in Russia: ‘Celebrities over veterans?’

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Republican lawmakers on Thursday criticized President Biden for a deal that returned WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison camp, but failed to free Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine veteran who has been jailed in Russia since 2018 on spying charges that the U.S. government has said are baseless.

In return for Griner, the U.S. agreed to send convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” back to Russia. Several Republicans said that was a bad deal given the serious charges against Bout, and that Biden missed a chance to get Whelan.

“If @POTUS is going to release a guy convicted of providing aid to a terrorist organization & conspiring to kill American citizens, he should have at least gotten BOTH Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan in return,” tweeted Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y. “A U.S. Marine is left behind in another bad deal made by Biden.”

BRITTNEY GRINER RELEASED FROM RUSSIAN PRISON IN SWAP FOR CONVICTED ARMS DEALER

Republicans criticized President Biden for agreeing to a deal that freed NBA star Brittney Griner but left U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan still in prison in Russia.

Republicans criticized President Biden for agreeing to a deal that freed NBA star Brittney Griner but left U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan still in prison in Russia.

“Where is U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly held by Russia for far longer?” tweeted Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla. “Celebrities over veterans?”

Waltz said in a separate tweet, “This is absolutely shameful,” and said Biden is giving priority to a celebrity over a veteran.

“SO @POTUS just traded an enemy who smuggles guns and helps shoot Americans for an American who smuggles drugs and shoots basketballs, all while a former US Marine, Paul Whelan, rots in a Russian prison,” tweeted Rep. Scott Perry, R-PA. “Let that sink in.”

“President Biden just gave Russia its ‘Merchant of Death’ back while U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is left locked up in a Russian prison,” tweeted Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich. “We need justice for Paul. He should be on that plane coming home too.”

BRITTNEY GRINER’S LEGAL TEAM MET WITH WNBA STAR AT RUSSIAN PENAL COLONY: ‘DOING AS WELL AS COULD BE EXPECTED’

Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine veteran who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, June 15, 2020.

Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine veteran who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, June 15, 2020.
( Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP, File)

“@POTUS @SecBlinken, it’s been over 4 years since his imprisonment,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. “How much longer must his family wait? There is no place for weakness when it comes to lives of innocent Americans.”

“This is now the second prisoner exchange where President Biden has left Paul Whelan behind,” tweeted Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich. “A Marine and Michigan native, Paul has been wrongly imprisoned for 4 years. Absolutely heartbroken for the Whelan family. They deserve better.”

A Republican who just won a seat in the November midterm election, John Block of New Mexico, ripped the deal and said it favors Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Biden regime literally swapped Brittney Griner for Viktor Bout (the Merchant of Death) in Russia,” he tweeted. “Can’t make this stuff up… Biden just gave Putin exactly what he wanted.”

WHO IS VIKTOR BOUT, RUSSIA’S ‘MERCHANT OF DEATH’ FREED IN PRISONER SWAP FOR BRITTNEY GRINER?

Other Republicans were less critical but said there is more work to do to get Whelan and other Americans home. “I will continue my work with @RepHaleyStevens until all Americans wrongfully detained abroad are free,” tweeted Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.

Some House Democrats made similar points. Texas Rep. Colin Allred agreed that the U.S. “must remain committed to getting every American detained abroad back home.”

President Biden speaks about the release of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner from Russian custody, at the White House on Dec. 8, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Griner was released as part of a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

President Biden speaks about the release of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner from Russian custody, at the White House on Dec. 8, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Griner was released as part of a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“While we are very happy that Brittany Griner is returning home, we cannot forget we still have Americans unlawfully detained in Russia – specifically Paul Whelan,” tweeted Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass. “I have been in touch with his family, and they and Paul deserve all of our country’s efforts to bring him home.”

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Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Andy Levin, D-Mich., all tweeted that more work is needed to ensure the safe return of all Americans.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gop-rips-brittney-griner-deal-stranding-paul-whelan-russia-celebrities-veterans

Politics

How to send Valentines to kids in hospitals, nursing home residents and more

Valentine’s Day is a day when we think of others. It also can be a day to spread love to people who are facing their own set of challenges.

Throughout the country, pediatric hospitals, nursing homes, shelters and even employers of frontline workers are currently accepting Valentine’s Day cards and other holiday goodies.

Here are a few organizations and gift ideas that you might want to consider extending kindness to.

VALENTINE’S DAY SECRET: SPECIAL OCCASION UP AHEAD IS NOT JUST FOR LOVERS 

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Valentine’s Day celebrants can send virtual cards to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for free on the pediatric hospital’s website. Virtual card creators get to pick from an assortment of colorful designs that feature artwork inspired by real patients of St. Jude. 

St. Jude recommends writing “encouraging notes” to its patients. Cards can also be sent all year round and not just on Valentine’s Day. 

Other ways people can support the hospital over the holiday include sending in monetary donations, hosting fundraising events and spreading awareness on social media, according to St. Jude’s website.

St. Jude is partnered with AmazonSmile, an online shop that processes cash donations and giftable items to charities at no cost.

VALENTINE’S DAY ‘SCRATCH-OFF CARD’ CRAFT ON TIKTOK LETS YOU HIDE MESSAGES FOR YOUR SWEETHEART 

HIS Radio’s Hearts for Kids Initiative

Non-commercial radio station WLFJ-FM (HIS Radio) is accepting handmade Valentine’s Day cards that’ll be distributed to children’s hospitals throughout North Carolina. 

The station will be delivering “cheer packets” made up of “cards and fun goodies” to children’s wards at the following seven hospitals: North Carolina Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill; Wake Med, Raleigh; Duke Children’s, Durham; Vidant/Maynard Children’s Hospital, Greenville; Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Fayetteville; Betsy Johnson Hospital, Dunn; and Nash General, Rocky Mount.

HIS Radio will screen cheer packets. Cards and goodies must be received no later than Wednesday, Feb. 8, according to the radio station’s website.

VALENTINE’S DAY: DO YOU KNOW THE ORIGINS OF THE HOLIDAY?

Valentine’s Day cards can be mailed or dropped off in person at the address below.

HIS Radio–Hearts For Kids

7610 Falls of Neuse Rd, Suite 155

Raleigh, N.C. 27615

The local radio station recommends card submitters refrain from using glitter and googly eyes, making references to illness or religion and providing candy or toys. Instead, HIS Radio suggests making uplifting and gender-neutral holiday cards that feature standard Valentine’s Day greetings. Cards written in Spanish are also encouraged.

ONE OF THE WORLD’S OLDEST VALENTINE’S DAY CARDS FROM 1818 REDISCOVERED AFTER 20 YEARS 

Wish of a Lifetime From AARP’s Cupid Crew

Spreading Valentine’s Day cheer to seniors is an easy task with AARP’s Wish of a Lifetime. The organization has a volunteer-driven Cupid Crew campaign that collects Valentine’s Day cards nationally and delivers these heartfelt notes to seniors who are socially isolated.

Pre-made Cupid Crew Valentine’s Day cards can be downloaded from the Wish of a Lifetime website. Once printed, holiday celebrants can personalize and drop off or mail the cards to local senior communities or someone they know personally.

“Since the pandemic’s start, many older Americans have become more isolated, missing out on chances to connect with their communities and passions in life,” Wish of a Lifetime’s website states. “Through Cupid Crew, you can help them feel more connected and loved.”

Love In Action Project

The Love in Action Project has already kicked off its annual Valentine’s Day card drive, which aims to create and deliver 5,000 cards to nursing home residents in North Carolina. The organization matches volunteers with nursing homes, so cards can be sent directly to these facilities.

According to the Love in Action Project, sending Valentine’s Day cards to seniors in nursing homes fosters human connection, curbs loneliness and aids physical and mental health. 

Volunteers who are interested in participating in this year’s card drive can email the Love in Action Project at info@iamlovenaction.org.

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Open Door Mission

Open Door Mission, a Nebraska-based shelter that offers temporary housing and food to people in need, is accepting handmade Valentine’s Day cards and decorations that’ll be distributed around the holiday. 

Both crafts should be dropped off at the organization’s administration building at the address below.

Open Door Mission

2828 N 23rd St East

Omaha, Neb. 68110

Valentine’s Day cards can include holiday candies and will be distributed to Open Door Mission residents, according to the nonprofit. Donated Valentine’s Day decorations will be displayed at the Open Door Mission’s Hearts of Hope Banquet.

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Send cards or meals to frontline workers

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens showed their appreciation and support to frontline workers with thank-you cards and meals.

Those considerate offerings can be brought back on Valentine’s Day for local hospitals, police departments, firehouses and other essential workers. 

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens showed their appreciation and support to frontline workers with thank you cards and meals. Those considerate offerings can be brought back on Valentine’s Day.

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens showed their appreciation and support to frontline workers with thank you cards and meals. Those considerate offerings can be brought back on Valentine’s Day.
(iStock)

Whether it’s a simple Valentine’s Day card, a homemade baked good or a store-bought breakfast, lunch or dinner, there are different ways you can spread holiday cheer. 

Just make sure to check with the organization you’d like to extend Valentine’s Day appreciation to in case there are specific gifting rules.

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If you’d like to send a Valentine to a veteran or an active-duty service member, read more here.

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Politics

Biden issues call for unity after insulting GOP as ‘fiscally demented’

President Biden called for unity, hearkening back to days when elected officials from both sides of the aisle got along, two weeks after he called Republicans “fiscally demented.”

Biden delivered the remarks during a Thursday morning address at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

“In our politics, in our lives, we too often see each other as opponents and not competitors,” Biden said. “We see each other as enemies, not neighbors. And as tough as these times have been, if we look closer we see the strength and determination that has long defined America.”

“There are those in the greatest need who are looking to us. They’ve elected us to help them. To really look at each other, not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as who we really are – as fellow Americans, fellow human beings worthy of being treated with dignity and respect,” the president added.

PRESIDENT BIDEN CALLS REPUBLICANS ‘FISCALLY DEMENTED’ DURING MLK DAY SPEECH, AMID DOCS SCANDAL, INFLATION

President Joe Biden speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Washington.

President Joe Biden speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Washington.
(The Associated Press)

Biden stated that “so much more unites us than divides us,” and that his first two years in office showed that officials “can join hands and get things done.” 

It was just two weeks ago that Biden took a shot at Republicans during a speech at the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day breakfast. 

REPORTER CALLS OUT BIDEN FOR COMPLAINING OF ‘POISON’ POLITICS WHILE SMEARING REPUBLICANS AS ‘SEGREGATIONISTS’

President Joe Biden called Republicans 'fiscally demented' while speaking at the National Action Network's Martin Luther King, Jr., Day breakfast.

President Joe Biden called Republicans ‘fiscally demented’ while speaking at the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Day breakfast.
(AP)

“These guys, they’re fiscally demented. They don’t quite get it,” Biden said about Republicans who criticized Biden for signing large spending packages.

Biden has also called Republicans who support former President Donald Trump “a threat to this country,” and compared their political ideology to “semi-fascism.”

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Later in his remarks, the president recalled how things were different when he first joined the Senate in the 1970s, at a time when political opponents could still be friends. He illustrated his point by saying how when segregationists like Sens. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., and James Eastland, D-Miss., were in office, he would see Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., “argue like hell” with Eastland on the Senate floor, then eat with him afterwards in the Senate dining room.

“I don’t know how we go back to doing that anymore, but we have to,” Biden said.

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Politics

Hunter Biden’s lawyers demand criminal probe into laptop leakers, Giuliani and others, admit laptop is his

Hunter Biden’s lawyers called on federal and state prosecutors across the country to open criminal investigations into his critics on Wednesday – and in doing so, acknowledged that the notorious laptop is indeed Hunter’s.

Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, wrote letters to the Justice Department and the Delaware attorney general calling for investigations into Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon and John Mac Isaac, who owns the computer repair shop where Biden is said to have left his laptop. Biden’s lawyers also sent cease and desist letters to others who obtained and disseminated the laptop’s contents.

Lowell argued in the letters that Mac Isaac and the others had no right to inspect the contents of Biden’s laptop, much less make copies of it to share with the media.

“This failed dirty political trick directly resulted in the exposure, exploitation, and manipulation of Mr. Biden’s private and personal information,” Lowell wrote in a letter. “Politicians and the news media have used this unlawfully accessed, copied, distributed, and manipulated data to distort the truth and cause harm to Mr. Biden.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

COMER SOUNDS ALARM ON BIDEN’S MISHANDLING OF CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS: ‘NOTHING’ HE’S DONE IS ‘NORMAL’

Hunter Biden's lawyers are going on offense against his critics.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers are going on offense against his critics.
(Getty Images)

Hunter Biden's lawyers sent letters demanding a criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers sent letters demanding a criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

HUNTER BIDEN SEEN AT RITZY NYC ART GALLERY SELLING HIS PAINTINGS FOR UP TO $200K, DESPITE ETHICS CONCERNS

The letter went on to accuse Mac Isaac of “theft of computer services,” and Giuliani of “possession of stolen property.

“Mr. Mac Isaac chose to work with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer to weaponize Mr. Biden’s personal computer data against his father, Joseph R. Biden, by unlawfully causing the provision of Mr. Biden’s personal data to the New York Post,” Lowell wrote.

Despite the appearances, a source familiar with Lowell’s move argued that Wednesday’s letters do not constitute an admission of the laptop’s validity. Biden’s legal team argues that the versions of the laptop released to the public may have been tampered with.

Hunter Biden's legal team is demanding a criminal investigation into Steve Bannon.

Hunter Biden’s legal team is demanding a criminal investigation into Steve Bannon.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The First Son’s newfound legal aggression comes as Republicans on Capitol Hill are preparing their own investigations into both him and President Biden’s family more generally.

An upcoming hearing for the House Oversight Committee will focus on Twitter’s censorship of the New York Post’s original story on the so-called “laptop from hell,” which dropped just weeks before Election Day in 2020.

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Other House investigations are expected to focus on Hunter’s business dealings. Those investigations are likely to rely heavily on the contents of the laptop.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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