President Joe Biden made the controversial decision last week to free imprisoned WNBA superstar Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap with the Russian government for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Former president Donald Trump blasted the deal to free Griner.
Ron O’Brien, a former national security advisor to Trump, told The Hill that the Russians were willing to free imprisoned former United States Marine Paul Whelan while negotiating with the Trump Administration. Whelan is currently serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on espionage charges.
However, once Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 presidential election, the Russians “reneged on a deal that would have freed Whelan and former United States Marine Trevor Reed.
“Once we lost the election, the Russians lost all interest” in talking with the Trump administration, O’Brien told The Hill.
Whelan blasted Biden for leaving him out of the latest prisoner swap with the Russian government. Whelan’s family, for their part, issued multiple statements supporting Biden’s decision to free Griner.
Griner plead guilty in January to charges she brought a small, personal amount of medical hashish oil about a domestic flight with her Russian Premier League team. The Russian government originally sentenced her to nine years in a maximum-security penal colony for women.