Trump calls WNBA star Brittany Griner ‘bad’ and says he won’t settle for her release
Donald Trump slammed a proposed prisoner swap between the US and Russia involving WNBA star Brittany Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.
Mr Trump appeared on Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show on Saturday.
Ms Griner has been in prison in Russia for months and is now facing trial on drug charges.
“She knew you didn’t go there loaded with drugs and she accepted it,” Trump said.
“That certainly doesn’t sound like a very good business, does it?” About boxing, he said. “He is absolutely one of the worst people in the world, and he is being given his freedom because a potentially bad person is in Russia full of drugs.”
Regarding Russian laws, he said: “She doesn’t like drugs. And she got caught. And now, we’re gonna get her out — and she makes, you know, a lot of money, I guess. We’ll give her one.” Complete killer and take out for one of the world’s biggest arms dealers. Killed many Americans. Killed many people.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to accept a prisoner swap for Mrs Griner and Mr Whelan in their first talks since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Associated Press reported that Blinken said he had “clear and direct talks” with Mr Lavrov on Friday that focused primarily on the prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“I urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to move forward with that proposal,” said Mr. Blinken.
He said Russian officials gave no indication whether they would accept the US offer.
“I can’t give you an assessment of whether it’s unlikely or not.”
Mr Blinken said the call focused primarily on a proposal for the release of the Americans.
The top US diplomat said he pressured his Russian counterpart to honor an agreement to allow Ukraine’s grain shipments to leave the Black Sea.
The Russian military bombed the port of Odessa last week, 24 hours after agreeing to allow the resumption of shipments.
He said he told Mr Lavrov that the US would never recognize any land in Ukraine, according to the AP.
Mr Blinken also warned the Russians of dire consequences if they went ahead with plans to capture parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.
The US government revealed on Wednesday that it had proposed an exchange several weeks ago for Mrs Griner and Mr Whelan in exchange for Bout, the notorious arms dealer nicknamed the “merchant of death”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Moscow had not yet accepted the terms of the deal.
Ms Griner, 31, has been arrested since February, when she was arrested at an airport near Moscow for possession of a small quantity of cannabis.
Mr Whelan has been in prison in Russia for espionage since 2018.