Former President Trump claims he “turned down a deal” with Russia to receive captive American Paul Whelan in exchange for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, whom President Biden finally traded last week for WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Whelan has been in Russian custody for more than four years in a labor camp in the Russian republic of Mordovia. In 2018, while President Trump was in office, the Marine Corps veteran was arrested and convicted on spying and espionage charges for the US government, and faces up to 16 years in prison.
“I have rejected a deal with Russia for a one-for-one trade of the so-called Merchant of Death for Paul Whelan,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social account Sunday night, referencing Bout’s nickname. “I would not have made the deal for a hundred people in exchange for someone who has killed untold numbers of people with his arms deals.”
“I would have gotten Paul out, though, just as I did a record number of other hostages. The deal for Griner is crazy and bad,” Trump said as well. “The takeover wouldn’t have even happened during my Administration, but if it had, I would have taken it out, fast!”
PAUL WHELAN’S BROTHER CALLS TRUMP’S ‘REALLY OFFENSIVE’ RESPONSE TO GRINER-BOUT EXCHANGE
Fox News Digital has reached out to the US State Department for further comment.
Trump previously called the Griner-Bout exchange “stupid” and “unpatriotic” in a post on Truth Social.
However, Paul’s brother, David Whelan, has hit back at President Trump for his comments, arguing that his attitude is “disappointing” from a former president.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“I think what President Biden did was take care of an American who was in danger and bring home the American he could bring home. So it’s disappointing for a former president to have that kind of perspective,” Whelan told Fox News. Neil Cavuto.
Fox News’ Madeline Coggins contributed to this report.