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Trump Remarks Blasting Brittney Griner as 'Loaded Up With Drugs' Resurface

Newsweek 12/8/2022 Nick Reynolds
US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony in August for drug smuggling, is seen on a screen via a video link from a remand prison during a court hearing to consider an appeal against her sentence, at the Moscow regional court on October 25, 2022. - The two-time Olympic basketball gold medallist and Women's NBA champion was detained at a Moscow airport in February after she was found carrying vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. © Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony in August for drug smuggling, is seen on a screen via a video link from a remand prison during a court hearing to consider an appeal against her sentence, at the Moscow regional court on October 25, 2022. - The two-time Olympic basketball gold medallist and Women's NBA champion was detained at a Moscow airport in February after she was found carrying vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.

Video of former President Donald Trump lambasting WNBA star Brittney Griner resurfaced following her release from a Russian prison Thursday.

Appearing on The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show over the summer, Trump criticized a proposed deal by the Biden administration to do a prisoner swap with Russia to secure Griner's release in exchange for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death."

Trump called Griner "potentially spoiled" and deserving of imprisonment after she was detained in a Moscow airport for possessing vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil, a violation which resulted in a sentence of nine years in a Russian prison camp.

"She went in there loaded up with drugs into a hostile territory where they're very vigilant about drugs. They don't like drugs. And she got caught. And now we're supposed to get her," Trump said on the show. "She makes a lot of money, I guess. But 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, and he's gonna get a free card.

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"She knew you don't go in there loaded up with drugs and she admitted it. I assume she admitted it without too much force, because it is what it is," he added. "It certainly doesn't seem like a very good trade does it? He's an absolute 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."

Those sentiments were echoed by Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., shortly after Russians accepted the deal Thursday morning.

"No one cuts better deals than Biden," Trump wrote on his father's platform, Truth Social, Thursday morning." We get an awful America Hating WNBA player, while Russia gets AN INTERNATIONAL ARMS DEALER!!! The adults are back!"

Trump, however, has his own history of unsavory prisoner exchanges.

His administration once negotiated a deal that secured the release of roughly 5,000 prisoners with ties to groups like the Taliban and ISIS from Afghani prisons in exchange for a pledge not to attack American targets—a move Utah Republican Mitt Romney blamed as a chief contributor to the Taliban's ability to reclaim control of Afghanistan at the start of Biden's administration.

"Recognize that we're in the position we're in right now because of terrible decisions made by two administrations: One, the Trump administration negotiating directly with the Taliban, getting ready to invite them to Camp David, opening up a prison of 5,000 Taliban and probably ISIS-K individuals and letting them free," Romney said on CNN's State of the Union in August 2021.

The Trump administration also negotiated the release of two Americans, Xiyue Wang and Michael White, from Iranian detention in 2020 in a highly publicized move critics said jeopardized the state department's credibility in negotiating prisoner releases from hostile countries.

Then, there's the question of those Trump declined to negotiate freedom for: figures like Paul Whelan, a Trump-supporting former Marine who several years ago was sentenced to 16 years of hard labor in a Russian court on espionage charges following a secret trial featuring numerous, trumped-up charges.

While both Trump's U.S. ambassador in Moscow, John Sullivan, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Whelan's treatment and conviction, Trump was largely silent on his imprisonment and, at the time, was actively pushing for Russia to be included among the Group of Seven prior to its invasion of nearby Ukraine.

While Whelan pleaded from a Russian court to "tweet your intentions" to help him, Trump never discussed Whelan publicly, even after an all-out public relations campaign by family members seeking his release.

"It's just a question of Trump making the call," Bill Browder, a prominent critic of the Kremlin, told The Atlantic in 2019.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment.

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