Trump calls WNBA star Brittney Griner ‘spoiled’ and says he wouldn’t make deal for her release

·3 min read

Donald Trump blasted the proposed prisoner swap between the US and Russia, involving WNBA star Brittney Griner and ex-marine Paul Whelan in exchnage Russian weapons dealer Viktor Bout.

Mr Trump appeared on The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show on Saturday.

Ms Griner has been in jail in Russia for months and is now on trial on drug charges.

“She knew you don’t go in there loaded up with drugs, and she admitted it”, Mr Trump said.

“It certainly doesn’t seem like a very good trade, does it?” he added, concerning Bout. “He’s absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s going to be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs.”

Concerning Russian laws, he said: “They don’t like drugs. And she got caught. And now, we’re supposed to get her out — and she makes, you know, a lot of money, I guess. We’re supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. 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 Ms Griner and Mr Whelan in their first talks since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Blinken said he had a “frank and direct conversation” with Mr Lavrov on Friday, which focused primarily on the prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, the Associated Press reported.

“I urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to move forward with that proposal,” Mr Blinken said.

He said the Russian officials gave no indication if they would accept the US proposal.

“I can’t give you an assessment of whether that is any more or less likely.”

Mr Blinken said the call centred primarily on the proposal for the release of the Americans.

The top US diplomat added that he pressed his Russian counterpart to honour an agreement to allow Ukrainian grain shipments to leave the Black Sea.

Russian forces bombed the port of Odessa last week, 24 hours after agreeing to allow the shipments to resume.

He said he told Mr Lavrov that the US would never recognise any of the annexed Ukrainian lands, according to the AP.

Mr Blinken also warned the Russians of severe consequences if they proceeded with reported plans to annex parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

The US government revealed on Wednesday it had proposed an exchange for Ms Griner and Mr Whelan in return for Bout, a notorious weapons dealer nicknamed the “merchant of death”, several weeks ago.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said on Thursday that Moscow has not yet accepted the terms of the deal.

Ms Griner, 31, has been incarcerated since February when she was arrested for being in possession of a small amount of cannabis vape at an airport near Moscow.

Mr Whelan has been jailed in Russia on espionage charges since 2018.