Trump Slams Biden's Proposed Prisoner Swap Involving WNBA's Brittney Griner
WNBA star Brittney Griner sits in a defendants' cage on Wednesday before a hearing in Khimki Court outside Moscow. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
By Jay Clemons | Monday, 01 August 2022 06:03 PM EDT
Former President Donald Trump criticized the proposed prisoner swap involving WNBA star Brittney Griner over the weekend, saying the United States cannot afford to release a convicted Russian criminal, an "absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world."
While speaking on Sunday at the LIV Golf event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, he said the reported prisoner swap would be a bad transaction for the Biden White House, since they'd be freeing a Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout,.for a "potentially spoiled person" in Griner.
Griner ''went [into Russia] loaded up with drugs into a hostile territory where they're very vigilant about drugs. They don't like drugs. And she got caught," Trump said in an interview on Clay Travis and Buck Sexton's syndicated radio show.
"And now we're supposed to get her out — and she makes, you know, a lot of money, I guess — and we're supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world."
Since late February, Griner has been imprisoned in Russia after authorities arrested her on charges of possessing a vape cartridge infused with CBD in her luggage.
Griner has since pleaded guilty to possession of an illegal drug.
Trump doesn't like the notion of including Bout in any prisoner swaps with Russia, given his ties to selling weapons to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
"[Bout's] going to get a free card, and we're going to get her," Trump said of Griner. "She knew you don't go in there loaded up with drugs, and she admitted it. I assume she admitted it without too much force because it is what it is."
As Newsmax reported on July 8, the White House maintains that President Joe Biden has been working behind the scenes to get Griner, Paul Whelan and other Americans detained in Russia back to the U.S.
Whelan is a 50-year-old corporate security executive and Marine Corps veteran who has been sentenced to 16 years in prison in Russia for alleged espionage.
Elizabeth Whelan, Paul's sister, has been critical of the White House in recent weeks, arguing that the Biden administration had not been giving her brother's case the same amount of attention as Griner's.
In addition to being a U.S. citizen, Paul Whelan reportedly holds British, Canadian and Irish passports.
On Monday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that President Biden personally signed off on the proposed deal to free Griner and Whelan from prison in Russia.
"The president and his team are willing to take extraordinary steps to bring them home," Kirby said. "We believe it’s important for the American people to know how hard President Biden is working to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home."