Republican lawmakers criticized President Biden on Thursday for a deal that freed WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison camp but failed to free U.S. Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges. is unreasonable.
In exchange for Griner, the U.S. agreed to extradite convicted Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” to Russia. Some Republicans say it was a bad deal when Booth faced serious charges and that Biden missed an opportunity to win over Whelan.
“If @POTUS is going to free a guy accused of aiding a terrorist organization and plotting to kill American citizens, he should at least get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, RN, tweeted. Y. . “US Marines Left Behind in Another Bad Deal Made by Biden.”
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“Where is Paul Whelan, the long-detained U.S. Marine wrongfully held by Russia?” Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., tweeted. — Celebrities over veterans?
“This is an absolute disgrace,” Waltz said in a separate tweet, adding that Biden would prefer a celebrity to a veteran.
“SO @POTUS has replaced an enemy who smuggles guns and helps shoot Americans with an American who smuggles drugs and shoots basketballs while ex-US Marine Paul Whelan rots in a Russian prison,” he wrote. tweeted Rep. Scott Perry, R-PA. “Put it in.”
Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., tweeted that President Biden returned his ‘Merchant of Death’ to Russia while US Marine Paul Whelan was being held in a Russian prison. “We need justice for Paul. He needs to be on the plane home too.”
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“@POTUS @SecBlinken, it’s been over 4 years since he was incarcerated,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. “How much longer does his family have to wait? There is no room for weakness when it comes to the lives of innocent Americans.”
“This is now the second prisoner exchange that President Biden has done, surpassing Paul Whelan,” Rep. Tim Wahlberg, R-Mich., tweeted. “Marine and Michigan native Paul was wrongly imprisoned for 4 years. So sorry for the Whelan family. They deserve better.”
Republican John Block of New Mexico, who just won a seat in November’s midterm elections, broke the deal and said it would support Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The Biden Regime has literally traded Britney Griner for Russia’s Viktor Bout[merchant of death],” he tweeted. “These things can’t be made up…Biden gave Putin what he wanted.”
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Other Republicans were less critical, but said more needs to be done to bring Whelan and other Americans home. “I will continue to work with @RepHaleyStevens until all Americans wrongfully detained overseas are freed,” tweeted Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.
Some House Democrats feel the same way. Representative Colin Allred of Texas agreed that the United States should “remain committed to the repatriation of every American captured abroad.”
“While we are thrilled to have Brittany Griner home, we cannot forget that there are still Americans illegally detained in Russia, most notably Paul Whelan,” tweeted Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass. “I’ve been in touch with his family. And they and Paul deserve our country’s best efforts to bring him home.”
Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Andy Levin, D-Mich., tweeted that more must be done to ensure the safe return of all Americans.