Former President Donald Trump said on Sunday he had previously rejected an attempt by Russia to trade ‘Merchant of Death’ arms dealer Viktor Bout for former US Marine Paul Whelan – and insisted he would never release anyone who ‘ killed countless numbers”.
“I turned down a deal with Russia for a one-for-one swap of the so-called Merchant of Death for Paul Whelan,” Trump, 76, said in a Truth Social post.
“I wouldn’t have made the deal for a hundred people in exchange for someone who killed countless people with his gun deals.”
Bout, who was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to murder Americans by supplying weapons to a Colombian terrorist group, was released last week in exchange for the return of WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian forced labor camp after authorities found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her suitcase when she landed in Moscow in February.
After the high-profile exchange, Trump immediately lashed out at the Biden administration, saying Whelan – who has been jailed in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges – should have been sent back to the US instead of Griner.
US officials said they tried to secure Whelan and Griner’s release, but Russia refused to budge – insisting on a one-for-one trade of Griner for Bout.
Despite shooting down the Whelan bout swap while he was in the White House, Trump insisted Sunday he “would still have gotten Paul out.”
“The deal for Griner is crazy and bad. The ingestion would not have happened even during my tenure, but if it had I would have snapped it out!” Trump wrote without elaborating.
A senior Biden administration official last week insisted Moscow is still open to talks about Whelan’s possible future release, arguing that Russia “has things it wants in this world.”
Shortly after Griner returned to Texas on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin also hinted that more prisoner swaps were possible.
Putin said “anything goes” when asked about future trades, noting that “compromises have been found” for the bout griner exchange.
“We do not refuse to continue this work in the future,” added the Russian strongman.
It comes after former national security adviser John Bolton told CBS last week that the Biden administration’s deal with Russia was a “surrender.”
“It’s not a deal. This is not a swap. This is a surrender,” Bolton said.
“And terrorists and rogue nations around the world will take notice, and it puts other Americans at risk in the future who can be grabbed and used as bargaining chips by people who don’t have the same morals and scruples as we do.”
https://nypost.com/2022/12/11/trump-says-he-rejected-russian-deal-to-swap-paul-whelan-for-viktor-boiut/ Trump says he rejected Russian deal to swap Paul Whelan for Viktor Boiut