Trump said he turned down a deal to release former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who’s been detained by Moscow since 2018, in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Trump said on Truth Social,
I turned down a deal with Russia for a one on one swap of the so-called Merchant of Death for Paul Whelan. I wouldn’t have made the deal for a hundred people in exchange for someone that has killed untold numbers of people with his arms deals.”
The deal for Griner is crazy and bad. The taking wouldn’t have even happened during my Administration, but if it did, I would have gotten her out, fast!”
Bout was released last week in exchange for WNBA star Brittney Griner, who spent about 10 months in Russian custody.
Trump criticized the deal soon after news broke of Griner’s release, saying Whelan should have been freed instead.
Trump said Sunday that, although he turned down the deal with Moscow, and that he
would have gotten Paul out.”
He did NOT explain why he was NOT able to do that while in the White House though.
Former Trump White House national security official Fiona Hill said on Face the Nation,
At the particular time, I also have to say here that President Trump wasn’t especially interested in engaging in that swap for also Paul Whelan. He was not particularly interested in Paul’s case in the way that one would have thought he would be.”
David Whelan, Paul Whelan’s brother Saturday on MSNBC,
I think the first two years, partly I think the Trump administration was not prepared to or not interested in working on wrongful detention cases.”
The Biden administration has said Russia was unwilling to include Whelan in a swap for Bout.
There was a potential prisoner swap raised during the Trump administration of Marine veteran Paul Whelan for Viktor Bout, former National Security Council Russia specialist Fiona Hill says. But, Pres. Trump wasn’t “particularly interested” in Whelan’s case though, Hill adds. pic.twitter.com/n7gC6iHbuK— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 11, 2022
Former President Trump appears to have mentioned my brother #PaulWhelan‘s wrongful detention more in the last 24 hours than he did in the 2 years of his presidency in which Paul was held hostage by #Russia (zero). I don’t suggest he cares now any more than he did then (zero) https://t.co/7lnSF0zJxL— David Whelan (@davidpwhelan) December 9, 2022
(via The Hill)