‘Terrible message’: GOP Rep who served in elite Army unit rips Biden over trading ‘Merchant of Death’ for Griner

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Daily Caller News Foundation

A Republican congressman who served with an elite Army unit blasted the Biden administration Thursday over the exchange of arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA star Brittney Griner, saying that “doing bad deals” sent “a terrible message” to the world.

“The real problem here is just the weakness of this president. We got a marine sitting over there. We traded this merchant of death guy who was going to target U.S. military personnel. And so what is the message we’re sending to the people serving in our military, or who might one day serve?” Republican Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, who served as a flight surgeon for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, told Fox News hosts Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer. “We’ll leave the marine in the jail in Russia. We’ll free the guy who was going to target U.S. military soldiers, and … just get … the high profile basketball player.”

WATCH:

Russia released Griner after the United States agreed to free “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout, an arms dealer convicted on charges related to a sale of weapons to a terrorist group in Colombia. Griner was sentenced to nine years in a labor camp for possession of cannabis after pleading guilty in July.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied reports that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the United Arab Emirates helped broker Griner’s release during Thursday’s press briefing.

“It’s a terrible message to send not only to the despots of the world who now know that they can get a trade if they just capture an American, but to the military, the United States military who are saying, ‘Yeah, I can serve this country, and the president will leave me and take the — the basketball player,’” Green continued.

Green noted the case of Paul Whelan, a former Marine who was arrested by Russia in 2018 and charged with espionage. Whelan received a 16-year prison sentence in 2020.

“I guess it’s just understandable. He [Biden] was the vice president when we traded five Taliban leaders, you know, warlords, basically for Bowe Bergdahl,” Green said. “So he was trained by the best I guess in doing bad deals.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

 

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