Issuing the statement on Truth Social, Trump said the swap was a bad deal because Biden traded an ex-WNBA basketball star for notorious Russian arms dealers Viktor Bout, “one of the biggest arms dealers anywhere in the world.”
Trump said the trade was especially grievous because Griner has been “openly” hateful towards her own nation.
“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,” he said.
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Trump also questioned why Biden worked to release Griner without American prisoner Paul Whelan, who was arrested in Russia in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison for alleged “espionage.” The former Marine denies the charges. Russia has presented little evidence for its claims outside of what was used to imprison him in court.
“Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction?” Trump asked. “He would have been let out for the asking.”
“What a ‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!” Trump concluded.
After Biden announced the swap, Whelan reportedly released a statement through CNN expressing his great surprise and frustration he was not included in the swap.
“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up. I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” he said. “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
In February, Griner, a two-time Olympic basketball champion, was arrested in Russia and pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis vape cartridges at an airport near Moscow. Her release had been negotiated since last Thursday.