Former President Donald Trump suggested that the proposed prisoner swap between Russia and the United States, which would return imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner in exchange for a Russian arms dealer, “doesn’t seem like a very good trade.”
“She knew you don’t go in there full of drugs, and she admitted it,” Trump told the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show. “I suppose she admitted it without too much violence, because it is what it is, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a good trade, right? He’s definitely one of the worst in the world, and he’ll get his freedom because a potentially spoiled person laden with drugs enters Russia.”
Trump referred to reports that the United States is trying to secure the release of Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death” for its arms sales that have fueled deadly conflict around the world.
“She went there laden with drugs to a hostile territory where they are very vigilant about drugs,” Trump added. “They don’t like drugs. And she got caught. And now we have to get her out – and she makes, you know, a lot of money, I think. We should get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world.” world. Lots of Americans killed. Lots of people killed.”
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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier this week that although the Kremlin and US officials are in talks, “no concrete result has been reached yet”.
“We assume that the interests of both parties must be taken into account in the negotiations,” she said.
Griner, a WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested in Russia in February after customs officers found “vapes” containing hash oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.
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Griner, who faces a possible 10-year prison term, pleaded guilty earlier this month in a move her legal team said was taken to “take full responsibility for her actions.”
Former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also suggested earlier this week that the proposed prisoner swap is not a good idea.
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“He’s a villain. He’s a man who wanted to kill Americans. It poses a real risk to the United States. There’s a real reason the Russians want to get him home. Offering a trade like this is a dangerous precedent ,” Pompeo told “America’s Newsroom”.
“This is not a good trade, not the right way forward, and it will likely lead to more,” Pompeo added.
Russian officials have long pushed for the release of Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence in US prison after he was convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to deliver anti-aircraft missiles and aiding a terrorist organization.
He was caught in 2008 during a stabbing operation in a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailandwhere he met informants from the Drug Enforcement Administration posing as officials of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which has been classified by US officials as a narco-terrorist group.
Prosecutors said Bout was willing to give the group with $20 million worth of “a breathtaking arsenal of weapons — including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles — 10 million ammunition and five tons of plastic explosives.”
Fox News’ Joshua Q. Nelson contributed to this report.