Republican lawmakers slammed the Biden administration’s decision to accept a prisoner swap with Russia for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner in exchange for letting Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout go.
Critics of the move argued that allowing Bout to go presents a national security risk and alleged the administration has failed to prioritize the release of other Americans.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-PA) took to social media to blast the decision, describing it as irresponsible.
“So @POTUS just traded an enemy who smuggles guns and helps shoot Americans for an American who smuggles drugs and shoots basketballs, all while a former US Marine, Paul Whelan, rots in a Russian prison. Let that sink in. #FreePaulWhelan,” Perry tweeted.
Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) echoed Perry’s sentiments, also calling for Biden to do more to fight for the release of Marine Paul Whelan.
“Today, @POTUS and his feeble admin gave up a Russian arms dealer (deemed one of the most dangerous people on earth). Meanwhile, a Marine and good American Paul Whelan has sat in a Russian prison for 4 yrs to rot. Americans are tired of capitulating to terrorist regimes,” he tweeted.
And Rep. Guy Reschenthaler said the exchange was “patently offensive.”
“Swapping a celebrity basketball player for the Merchant of Death — while excluding a Marine and a history teacher — is patently offensive and exposes the Biden Administration’s deeply rooted disdain for everyday Americans,” he said in a statement.
“It is clear Whelan and Fogel are afterthoughts to this administration, who care more about celebrity admiration and wokeness than returning all Americans safely to their families,” he added.
Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court over accusations she smuggled vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.