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Tipsheet

Joe Biden Finally Remembered to Speak With the Wife of a Detained WNBA Star

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

It's about time President Joe Biden spoke with WNBA star Brittney Griner's wife. Griner has been detained in Russia since February. It's a weak sauce narcotics charge. She was caught with vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil. Biden finally remembered that he had an American detained on foreign soil. 

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Biden told Griner's wife, Cherelle, that he is working to secure Brittney's release "as soon as possible." She's only been a guest of Russia since last winter, man. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was able to get our athletes out of an alleged shoplifting incident in China with rapid speed. 

This Griner situation has been an underreported disaster for the Biden administration. Joe probably kept forgetting that Brittney was in Russian custody. On their anniversary, an arranged call between Brittney and Cherelle was derailed when our embassy in Russia couldn't connect the two women. That happened because no one was at the front desk. Brittney called over several times to no avail. There was an apparent staff shortage on the weekend when this call took place. That's not an excuse, as the Biden team knew in advance that this call would occur on a weekend. Cherelle has torched the Biden White House for their incompetence, adding that she doesn't trust them one bit in this situation. Could you blame her? They can't even set up a phone call. 

This is an easy win. This is an easy task. It's a phone call—and this administration botched it. America is back, remember that? This crew screwed up an anniversary call that they knew was coming. So, after this series of disasters, I guess Biden thought he should talk to Cherelle (via ABC News): 

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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Brittney Griner’s wife to discuss efforts to release the WNBA star, who has been detained in Russia since February, according to the White House.

“The president called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other U.S. nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world,” the White House said in a statement, adding that Biden will respond to a letter from Griner on Wednesday. “He also read her a draft of the letter the president is sending to Brittney Griner today."

The call came amid a public pressure campaign urging the Biden administration to double down on its efforts to secure the WNBA star's release.

A group of more than 1,110 Black women leaders from across industries sent an open letter on Wednesday to Biden and Harris, calling on the administration to make a deal with Russia to bring Griner home.

“It is imperative, President Biden, that you address this ongoing human rights crisis and make a deal to bring Brittney home quickly and safely,” the women wrote.

[…]

Biden received a handwritten letter from Brittney Griner on Monday, expressing her fear that she may be in Russian custody “forever.”

[…]

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday that Brittney Griner's letter was "very personal" to the president.

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Griner is currently on trial for her drug offense. It started on July 1. It won't conclude until around Christmas time on December 20. This administration is shuffling like Biden on this matter, so I doubt the president's band of diplomatic misfits is going to be able to bust her out before December. The 2022 midterms are here. Yet, Biden should focus on Griner's release since this is the only issue where he can secure a win and a good outcome. It's a killing field for him everywhere else. In the meantime, Griner remains in Russian legal purgatory. 

UPDATE: Griner pleads guilty to drug charges and faces up to 10 years in jail.

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