Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer, was swapped by President Biden for Brittney Griner
By Greg Norman
According to the former president Trump, he “turned down a deal” with Russia to receive the imprisoned American Paul Whelan in exchange for the convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who President Biden ultimately swapped last week for WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Whelan has spent more than four years in Russian custody at a labor camp in the Russian republic of Mordovia. The Marine veteran faced up to 16 years in prison after being charged with espionage and spying for the United States government in 2018 while President Trump was in office.
In reference to Bout’s nick name, “the so-called Merchant of Death,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social account Sunday night, “I turned down a deal with Russia for a one on one swap of Paul Whelan for the so-called Merchant of Death.” “I wouldn’t have made the deal for a hundred people in exchange for someone whose arms deals have resulted in the deaths of untold numbers of people.”
“I would have gotten Paul out, however, just as I did with a record number of other hostages. The deal for Griner is crazy and bad,” Trump also said. “The taking wouldn’t have even happened during my Administration, but if it did, I would have gotten her out, fast!”
Fox News Digital has reached out to the U.S. State Department for further comment.
Trump previously called the Griner-Bout swap “stupid” and “unpatriotic” in a post on Truth Social.
However, Paul’s brother David Whelan hit back at President Trump for his comments, arguing his attitude is “disappointing” from a former president.
“I think that what President Biden did was to take care of an American who was in peril and bring home the American that he could bring home. So it’s disappointing that a former president would have that sort of perspective,” Whelan told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.
Fox News’ Madeline Coggins contributed to this report.