Former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to reveal that he had rejected a deal to release Viktor Bout in exchange for U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan.
Trump explained in his social media post that when he was in the White House, he “turned down” a Russian deal for a “one on one” prisoner exchange, in which the U.S. would release Bout — known as the “Merchant of Death” — in exchange for Whelan — who was detained by Moscow in 2018.
Trump noted he would never have agreed to the deal, even “for a hundred people,” given the “untold numbers of people” Bout killed through his arms deals.
Trump’s revelation about his role in attempts to release Whelan comes days after WNBA player Brittney Griner was released from a prison in Russia in exchange for the U.S. releasing Bout.
Trump expressed criticism over the swap soon after news broke that Griner was released, insisting Whelan should have been chosen for the swap rather than Griner.
Amid a wave of criticism that didn’t only come from Trump, the Biden Administration revealed Russia refused to include Whelan in the deal with Bout.
Trump also asserted in his Sunday post that he would have gotten Whelan out but didn’t explain how or why he hadn’t done it during his term in the Presidency.
The former President then called the Griner deal “crazy and bad,” adding Russia wouldn’t have taken the WNBA player during his administration, but if Moscow detained her, he would have ensured she was released “fast.”
Trump’s claims that there was a Whelan-Bout swap deal during his Presidency were confirmed by Fiona Hill, a former national security official in the White House. Hill revealed during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” with Margaret Brennan that Trump wasn’t “interested in” Whelan’s “case in the way that one would have thought he would be.”