Reactions to President Joe Biden’s controversial trade of WNBA activist Brittney Griner for a notorious Russian arms merchant include former Vice President Mike Pence who said that such a deal would not have taken place during the Trump administration.
On Thursday, the lopsided swap of the anti-American lesbian for Viktor Bout whose nickname is the “Merchant of Death” was announced, bringing an end to the captivity of the women’s basketball star who was arrested after being busted with drugs at Moscow’s airport in February.
(Video: Fox News)
The deal did not include former Marine Paul Whelan whom Biden chose to leave behind to rot in a Russian jail cell, infuriating many including former national security adviser John Bolton who blasted the exchange in an interview during which he also claimed that Trump had declined to swap Whelan for Bout.
Pence was asked about Bolton’s remarks by Fox News anchor John Roberts on Friday’s edition of “America Reports” where he criticized the “imbalanced” trade.
“John Bolton said that President Trump turned down a swap of Paul Whelan for Viktor Bout two years ago,” he said. “He told CBS, ‘The possibility of a Bout-for-Whelan trade existed back then, and it wasn’t made, for very good reasons having to deal with Viktor Bout.’”
“Is that true?” Roberts asked the ex-veep.
“Well, I would defer to John and his role as national security adviser,” Pence replied. “It just–”
“You were vice president,” interrupted the host. “You knew.”
“We weren’t in the business of prisoner swaps,” Pence responded. “We weren’t in the business of this kind of an uneven trade, John. So, I wouldn’t question that at all as having been the case.”
While saying that he’s happy that Griner has been freed, Pence said that he’s “deeply troubled at the imbalanced nature of this trade.”
“Is it safe to say this is not a trade your administration would have made?” Roberts persisted.
“I think it’s highly unlikely that we would’ve even considered that trade given the approach that we took,” Pence said.
Also expressing reservations about Biden’s bartering of Griner for Bout was the former DEA agent who was instrumental in bringing the “Merchant of Death” to justice.
Tom Pasquarello told Yahoo Sports, “I’m kind of in disbelief that someone with the potential to orchestrate arms deals that can kill Americans anywhere in the world would be traded for a prisoner.”
“We couldn’t even get two people for the world’s most notorious weapons trafficker, for a man who has been responsible for more carnage and blood diamonds and insurrections and threats to democracy than anyone else in the world,” he said. “How is that a negotiation? That’s like a free deal.”
Trump himself reacted strongly to the news of the deal.
“What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our Country, for the man known as ‘The Merchant of Death,’ who is one of the biggest arms dealers anywhere in the World, and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrific injuries,” he wrote on Truth Social. “Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking. What a ‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!”
The Griner for Bout swap isn’t the only controversial deal that Biden has been a part of.
In 2014 when he was vice president, Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl was traded by then-President Barack Obama for four Taliban terrorists despite being at least partially responsible for the deaths of several soldiers who were killed while searching for him in Afghanistan.
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