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Tipsheet

The Timing of Biden's Prisoner Swap With Russia Is Suspect

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

During the daily briefing at the White House Wednesday, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby revealed the Biden administration offered convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in exchange for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Griner and Whalen are being held in a Russian prison. 

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"We made a substantial offer to secure the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner and to bring them home," Kirby said. "In order to increase the chances for success here, we’re obviously not going to be able to share more publicly about the deal.  I’m sure you all have questions about what this looks like, and I’m sure you can all understand that it’s not going to help us get them home if we’re negotiating in public with you all.  So I’m not going to have any more detail on that." 

But when asked about the timing of the announcement and why the White House actually was negotiating in public for Griner and Whalen's release, Kirby explained the offer was made back in June. 

"It was made several weeks ago...Again, I don't want to get into the details of negotiation," Kirby said. "I would tell you that the offer has been made, and we certainly hope that Russia will favorably engage on it.  But I don't want to get into more detail about that." 

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The timing of the announcement before a deal on a prisoner exchange has been made, especially given the administration won't talk about details but gave news of the offer to the media on Wednesday, raises questions. 

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