As we were finishing up yesterday’s morning newsletter, word arrived of President Biden’s deal to free WNBA player Brittney Griner from a Russian penal colony in exchange for Viktor “The Merchant of Death” Bout, one of the most dangerous arms dealers in the world. My immediate response was that I was glad Ms. Griner was coming home, but that sounded like the worst prisoner exchange deal ever. Since then, many people have had the same reaction, and the more we’ve learned since, the worse it gets.
For one thing, when pressed on why they didn’t also insist on the release of decorated Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who’s been held in a Russian gulag for nearly four years on bogus espionage charges, the White House claimed that Vladimir Putin just wouldn’t agree to it and insisted on releasing no more than one American in exchange for Bout. I can’t imagine Donald Trump accepting those terms, and indeed, he made it abundantly clear that he would not have. He blasted the deal as a “stupid and unpatriotic embarrassment” and said Whelan would have “been let out for the asking.”
Or at least he would have if any President other than Biden had asked. Putin would have easily given up two political prisoners and maybe more for the Merchant of Death (who will likely now help him obtain weapons to kill even more Ukrainians), but with Biden, he knew he didn’t have to. Note to Joe: Putin is the dictator of Russia, not of you.
Even Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the release of Bout “deeply disturbing” and warned that it would incentivize dictators and rogue nations to take Americans hostage as bargaining chips.
Stephen Kruiser of P.J. Media had the most brutal take, writing, “Brittney Griner is a cliché America-hating lefty who was stupid enough to pack drugs for a trip to a hostile foreign nation. If ever anyone needed a harsh lesson about why America is better, it’s this idiot. She should have had to serve out her labor camp penalty in Russia until she was ready to wake up and sing the Star Spangled Banner every day…Bout was a HUGE bargaining chip. The U.S. should have been able to get a lot more than a dumb junkie broad for him. Paul Whelan is still incarcerated in Russia because our idiot communist overlords prioritize LGBTQ checklists über alles. Heaven help the Republic.”
This may be the worst prisoner exchange deal in history, and Biden’s most tragic botch job since the Afghanistan pullout (I consider the tragic border botch job to have started on day one.) It’s also the latest example of Biden again leaving one of our service people behind. This link has more, including Whelan’s response to being abandoned, and Biden’s non-answer when asked what is being done about Whelan’s release.
Finally, another fact worth mentioning: Just 12 hours after speaking at a vigil for victims of gun violence (most of whom these days are victims of criminals released by Democrats), Biden released one of the biggest and most dangerous arms dealers in the world, a man who arms terrorists.