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Trump Attacks Biden for Not Doing Something He Failed to Do Himself

Newsweek 12/8/2022 Katherine Fung
Left, Former President Donald Trump leaves the stage after speaking during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Right, President Joe Biden waves to the media as he departs the White House on October 6, 2022 in Washington, DC. Trump criticized Biden for not bringing Paul Whelan (Inset) home from Russia. © Getty Left, Former President Donald Trump leaves the stage after speaking during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Right, President Joe Biden waves to the media as he departs the White House on October 6, 2022 in Washington, DC. Trump criticized Biden for not bringing Paul Whelan (Inset) home from Russia.

Former President Donald Trump attacked President Joe Biden for failing to secure the release of former Marine Paul Whelan in Thursday's prisoner swap with Russia, even though Trump was sitting in the White House for half of the time that Whelan has been imprisoned overseas.

In a Truth Social post, Trump asked "what kind of deal" it was to swap American basketball star Brittney Griner in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

"Why wasn't former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction?" Trump asked. "He would have been let out for the asking. What a 'stupid' and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!"

On Thursday, the Biden administration agreed to a one-to-one exchange with the Kremlin, securing the release of Griner, who was detained at a Moscow airport in February after customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in the basketball player's luggage. In August, she was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.

The exchange has sparked concerns over the continued imprisonment of Whelan, who has been jailed for almost four years in Russia and who was left behind in Thursday's swap.

Although Whelan's family said Biden "made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home" on Thursday, they said they were "still devastated" Whelan has not been returned. Whelan is currently serving a 16-year sentence after a Russian court found him guilty on espionage charges in 2020. He and his family have maintained those charges are baseless.

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Speaking about the exchange on Thursday, Biden said his administration has "not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years."

"Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul's case differently than Brittney's. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul's release, we are not giving up. We will never give up," the President said.

Biden is not the only president who heard pleas from the Whelan family to help bring the former Marine home. During Whelan's first two years of detainment, he and his family unsuccessfully urged the Trump administration to help return Whelan to the U.S.

As his sister, Elizabeth Whelan, advocated extensively on Capitol Hill, Whelan himself plead with Trump to "tweet your intentions" during a brief court appearance in Moscow.

But Trump never succeeded in bringing him home, even as other U.S. citizens detained in other countries, like Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey and rapper A$AP Rocky in Sweden, were released thanks to Trump.

Speaking to the Atlantic in 2019, prominent Kremlin critic Bill Browder said "Trump could easily make the call" to secure Whelan's release.

"At this point, I think it requires the Whelan family going on Fox News and telling their story so he can hear it himself. Because the normal channels of briefing won't work," Browder said at the time.

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