After the prisoner exchange of the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “merchant of death,” for WNBA player Brittney Griner, former President Donald Trump posted to TruthSocial Saturday that he rejected a deal to trade Bout for former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. He called Biden’s trade “a one-sided disaster, and a BIG WIN FOR RUSSIA.”
In a video that seemed to confirm Trump’s argument, the head of the Russian network RT: Margarita Simonyan took time during a recent TV appearance to laugh at the decision.
On Sunday, Trump wrote, “I turned down a deal with Russia for a one on one swap of the so-called Merchant of Death for Paul Whelan. I wouldn’t have made the deal for a hundred people in exchange for someone that has killed untold numbers of people with his arms deals.”
“I would have gotten Paul out, however, just as I did with a record number of other hostages,” Trump added. “The deal for Griner is crazy and bad. The taking wouldn’t have even happened during my Administration, but if it did, I would have gotten her out , fast!”
Bout who is widely considered one of the deadliest arms dealers in history was serving a 25-year sentence for conspiring to sell several million dollars worth of arms to a Colombian terrorist organization committed to killing Americans.
The weapons included “700-800 surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), over 20,000 AK-47 firearms, 10 million rounds of ammunition, five tons of C-4 plastic explosives, ‘ultralight’ airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers, and unmanned aerial vehicles,” according to Court records.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained in a 2012 press release,
“Viktor Bout has been international arms trafficking enemy number one for many years, arming some of the most violent conflicts around the globe. He was finally brought to justice in an American court for agreeing to provide a staggering number of military grade weapons to an avowed terrorist organization committed to killing Americans. Today’s sentence is a fitting coda for this career arms trafficker of the most dangerous order.”
Griner was convicted and sentenced to prison for nine years in August for bringing cannabis vape cartridges, a controlled substance under Russian law, into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February. She was in the country to play for BC UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian basketball team that competed in the Russian Premier League and FIBA Europe’s EuroLeague Women until Feb. 2022.
According to Reuters, citing the court, Whelan was caught with a flash drive that contained unspecified “classified information.” Whelan plead not guilty and claimed he was set up in a sting. He said that he believed the drive contained holiday photos from a Russian acquaintance.
The head of Russian propaganda outlet RT, Margarita Simonyan, ridiculed the decision to trade Griner for Bout instead of Whelan according to a translated video shared by Julia Davis, a columnist for The Daily Beast and creator of The Russian Media Monitor.
Meanwhile in Russia: top state TV propagandists reveal the narrative they’ll be pushing to harm Biden and enrage Americans about the exchange of Brittney Griner for Viktor Bout by falsely claiming that it wasn’t Russia’s decision to oppose Whelan’s release, as opposed to Griner. pic.twitter.com/Iv5217XVCR
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) December 9, 2022
Simonyan told audiences, “Of course, I was very amused but not surprised that Bout was exchanged for Griner,” according to Outkick.
She laughed, “American voters were given a choice. A hero who suffered while serving his Fatherland. A medal-covered hero who suffered during his service to his Fatherland, or a black lesbian, hooked on drugs, who suffered for a vape with hashish, and well-known, for the sake of PR!”
Trump wrote on TruthSocial Friday. “The Trump Administration got 58 hostages released from various hostile countries without paying any money, or giving up anything. That is something, both in numbers and lack of remuneration, that has never been done before in any other administration.”
“The America hating basketball player for the ‘Merchant of Death,’ especially when the former Marine is not even included, is a one-sided disaster, and a BIG WIN FOR RUSSIA,” he continued. “If I made that deal the Dems would chant, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA!”