Former President Trump tore into the ‘stupid’ prisoner swap of ‘unpatriotic’ US women’s NBA star Britney Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in a deal brokered by Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton said the trade puts other Americans in danger of being detained by rogue states for bargaining power.
President Biden touted the swap as a success this morning as Griner had spent more than nine months in prison on marijuana charges. Other critics touted the deal as a boon to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war effort.
‘What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our Country, for the man known as ‘The Merchant of Death,’ who is one of the biggest arms dealers anywhere in the World, and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrific injuries,’ Trump mused.
‘Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking. What a ‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!’
Former national security advisor John Bolton said the 1-for-1 prisoner swap amounted to a ‘surrender.’
Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton said the trade puts other Americans in danger of being detained by rogue states for bargaining power
‘Obviously, there’s a lot of very understandable human emotion here in getting Griner released, but this is a very bad mistake by the Biden administration,’ Bolton told CBS.
‘Terrorists and rogue states all around the world will take note of this, and it endangers other Americans in the future who can be grabbed and used as bargaining chips by people who don’t have the same morals and scruples that we do.’
Bolton said that the opportunity to give up Bout in exchange for a U.S. prisoner presented itself during the Trump administration, but the trade wasn’t made ‘for very good reasons.’
‘This is a huge victory for Moscow over Washington,’ Bolton said.
The most vocal critics have asked why WNBA star Griner, whose release was advocated for by celebrities, has been released when ex-Marine Paul Whelan, who has been in prison for years, has not.
Biden insists he is still trying to get Whelan out.
Bout was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to kill American citizens. Bout, 55, walked free on Thursday, despite serving less than half of his 25-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors said Bout had accidentally agreed to sell antiaircraft weapons to Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials posing as arms buyers with the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia.
The deal was brokered with Vladimir Putin with the help of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, just 48 hours after the U.S. dropped a lawsuit holding him responsible for the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Whelan said from prison that he was ‘greatly disappointed’ the Biden administration did not do more to secure his release alongside Griner and said he was ready to ‘go home’.
Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called it ‘unconscionable’ to leave behind Whelan.
‘Merchant of Death – that’s the nickname of the prisoner Biden returned to Putin. He was convicted of conspiring to kill American law enforcement.
‘This is a gift to Vladimir Putin, and it endangers American lives. Leaving Paul Whelan behind for this is unconscionable.’
Paul Whelan, a former US Marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia, listens to his lawyers while standing inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow on January 22, 2019
Griner is shown in August this year after being found guilty
Brittney Griner shakes hands with a UAE official on the tarmac of at Abu Dhabi today as she was swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in a deal brokered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
War criminal Bout smiled as he made his way towards the jet waiting for him
Biden celebrates with Griner’s wife Cherelle in the Oval Office after securing the WNBA star’s release from a Russian penal colony
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and former Air Force pilot, also cried foul.
‘So a basketball star is released, we can celebrate, but what about Paul Whelan? An American unjustly detained for years,’ he tweeted.
‘May not be high profile but he is innocent. This is a dangerous road.’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Russian government remained unwilling to negotiate Whelan’s release.
‘While we celebrate Brittney’s release, Paul Whelan and his family continue to suffer needlessly. Despite our ceaseless efforts, the Russian government has not yet been willing to bring a long overdue end to his wrongful detention. I wholeheartedly wish we could have brought Paul home today on the same plane with Brittney,’ he said in a statement.