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Tipsheet

Trump Reveals He Rejected Russia's Previous Offer to Swap 'Merchant of Death'

AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File

As more information trickles out about how President Joe Biden agreed to swap Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA player Brittney Griner, former President Donald Trump revealed that Russia had tried to get him to release Bout in a proposed prisoner exchange that Trump rejected over his objections to freeing the "Merchant of Death."

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In a post on Truth Social, Trump said "I turned down a deal with Russia for a one on one swap of the so-called Merchant of Death for Paul Whelan," the former U.S. Marine who was arrested by Russian authorities in 2018 and charged with espionage before being sentenced to 16 years in 2020. 

"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," Trump continued of Viktor Bout. 

"I would have gotten Paul out, however, just as I did with a record number of other hostages," the 45th president noted of his other actions to bring Americans held unjustly overseas home. 

"The deal for Griner is crazy and bad," Trump said. "The taking wouldn’t have even happened during my Administration, but if it did, I would have gotten her out, fast!"

Trump, however, did not explain what he meant by saying he "would have gotten Paul out," even though Trump did not secure his release during the years he was in office. 

As Townhall reported last week, President Biden freed Viktor Bout — who was serving a 25-year sentence for conspiring to kill Americans, trafficking anti-aircraft missiles, and providing material support to terrorists — in exchange for Brittney Griner who was arrested in Russia after she was caught with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil and sentenced to a multi-year stint in a Russian penal colony. 

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Katie reported on the White House's lackluster explanation for why the White House did not secure the release of Whelan along with Griner, and even those within President Biden's own party — including Pentagon officials and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) who called Biden's prisoner swap deal a "deeply disturbing decision" — panned the trade. 

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