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Ancient President Donald Trump suggested that the proposed Russia-US prisoner exchange that would return jailed WNBA star Brittney Griner in exchange for a Russian arms dealer “doesn’t seem like a very good exchange.”
“She knew you’re not going in there loaded with drugs, and she admitted that,” Trump told The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show. “I guess she admitted it without too much force because that’s what it is, and it sure doesn’t sound like a very good job, does it? He’s absolutely one worst in the world, and he’s going to be released because a potentially spoiled person walks into Russia high on drugs.”
Trump was referring to reports that the US was trying to secure the release of Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as “Merchant of Death” because of its arms sales that have fueled deadly conflicts around the world.
“She came in there loaded with drugs in hostile territory where they are very vigilant about drugs,” Trump added. “They don’t like drugs. And she got caught. And now we’re supposed to get her out – and she’s making, you know, a lot of money, I guess. We’re supposed to get her out for a absolute duration killer and one of the largest arms dealers in the world. Killed many Americans. Killed many people.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier this week that if the Kremlin and US officials have started talks, “there has not yet been a concrete result”.
“We start from the principle that the interests of both parties must be taken into account during the negotiations,” she said.
Griner, WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested in Russia in February after customs officers found “vapes” containing hashish oil in his luggage at an airport near Moscow.
Griner, who faces a 10-year prison sentence, pleaded guilty earlier this month, in a move her legal team said she was made to “take full responsibility for her actions.”
Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, also suggested earlier this week that the proposed prisoner exchange is not a good idea.
“He’s a bad guy. He’s a guy who wanted to kill Americans. This poses a real risk to the United States. There’s a real reason the Russians want to take him home. Offering an exchange like that -this is a dangerous precedent,” he added. Pompeo told America’s Newsroom.
“It’s not a good trade, not the right way to go, and it will probably lead to more,” Pompeo added.
Russian officials have long lobbied for the release of Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States after being convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to deliver anti- flights and aid to a terrorist organization.
He was arrested in 2008 during an undercover operation at a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailandwhere he met Drug Enforcement Administration informants posing as officials of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which have been classified by US officials as a narco-terrorist group.
Prosecutors said Bout was willing to provide the group with $20 million worth of “a jaw-dropping arsenal of weapons – including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles – 10 million rounds and five tons of plastic explosives”.
Fox News’ Joshua Q. Nelson contributed to this report.