Donald Trump has slammed the proposed prisoner swap between the United States and Russia, implicating WNBA star Brittney Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan in the exchange of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Mr. Trump appeared on The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show Saturday.
Ms Griner has been in prison in Russia for months and is currently on trial for drug trafficking.
“She knew you’re not going there loaded with drugs, and she admitted that,” Trump said.
“That sure doesn’t sound like a very good trade, does it?” he added, regarding Bout. “He’s absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s going to be released because a potentially spoiled person walks into Russia high on drugs.”
Regarding Russian laws, he said: “They don’t like drugs. And she got caught. And now we’re supposed to take her out – and she’s making, you know, a lot of money, I guess. We’re supposed to take her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. Killed many Americans. Killed a lot of people.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to agree to a prisoner swap for Ms Griner and Mr Whelan during 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 swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, the Associated Press reported.
“I urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to go ahead with this proposal,” Blinken said.
He said Russian officials had given no indication whether they would accept the US proposal.
“I can’t tell you if that’s more or less likely.”
Mr. Blinken said the call focused primarily on the Americans’ proposed release.
The senior US diplomat added that he had urged his Russian counterpart to honor an agreement allowing Ukrainian grain shipments to leave the Black Sea.
Russian forces shelled the port of Odessa last week, 24 hours after agreeing to allow shipping to resume.
He said he told Mr. Lavrov that the United States would never recognize any of the annexed Ukrainian lands, according to the AP.
Mr Blinken also warned the Russians of serious consequences if they proceed with reported plans to annex parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.
The US government revealed on Wednesday that it had offered a swap for Ms Griner and Mr Whelan in exchange for Bout, a notorious arms dealer dubbed the “dealer of death”, several weeks ago.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Moscow had not yet agreed to the terms of the deal.
Ms Griner, 31, has been incarcerated since February when she was arrested for possession of a small amount of vaping cannabis at an airport near Moscow.
Mr Whelan has been imprisoned in Russia for espionage since 2018.