Lawmakers tear Biden, Paul Whelan behind Britney Griner’s prisoner swap: ‘It’s a shame’

The Biden administration is facing backlash over the prisoner swap of Britney Griner, who swapped Russian arms dealer Victor Booth for WNBA star while failing to secure the release of another inmate, ex-US Marine Paul Whelan.

Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., joined “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday to discuss how President Biden’s “weakness” on the exchange is sending a “disgraceful” message to the U.S. military after his second failed attempt to bring Whelan home.

“The real problem here is the weakness of the president,” Green told Bill Hammer and Dana Perino. “We’ve got a Marine sitting here. We’ve replaced this merchant of death who wants to target the U.S. military. So what message are we sending to people who are serving in our military, or who may one day be serving? “


WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 08: US President Joe Biden speaks on the release of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner from Russian custody at the White House on December 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. Griner was released as part of a prisoner swap involving Russian arms dealer Victor Booth. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“We’re going to leave a Marine in a prison in Russia, release a guy trying to target the U.S. military, and just… get a high-profile basketball player,” he continued. “It’s a terrible message to send not only to the despots of the world, who know that if they capture an American, they can trade, but to the military, to the US military, who say, ‘hey, I can serve this,'” he said. the country and the president will leave me and take the basketball player.”

Biden announced at the White House on Thursday that Griner had been released from a Russian prison and was on his way home. He thanked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their role in facilitating his return home.

But critics were quick to call out the White House for leaving Whelan behind. He has been held in a Russian prison since 2018, accused of espionage.


Whelan’s brother is David Whelan congratulated Griner In a statement on Thursday about his release, the Biden administration regretted its failure to release his brother.

“There is no greater achievement than the release of an illegal prisoner and their return home. The Biden administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home and work out a possible deal rather than waiting for her to happen.” no,” he writes.

“She will be reunited with her family. Britney is free. Paul is still on bail. But how many more times do I have to write this?” – he continued. “Our family is still being torn apart even though we could have had a reciprocity without Paul. I can’t even imagine how Paul must feel when he finds out. Paul has worked so hard to survive this injustice for almost 4 years.”

Britney Griner, left, and Paul Whelan, right.

Britney Griner, left, and Paul Whelan, right.

In a speech at the White House, Biden stressed the administration’s commitment to repatriating Whelan despite the second failed attempt.

“It wasn’t a choice about which American to take home,” Biden said, adding that Russia was treating Whelan differently than Griner for “absolutely illegitimate reasons.”

“We will never give up,” Biden said.

Despite the administration’s claims, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, pressed the White House on a plan to secure Whelan’s release. “The Brian Kilmeade Show.”

“I’m very happy to have Brittney back,” Ernst told Kilmead. “I think it’s a good thing if we can bring American families together, but we have more work to do, obviously. What about Paul Whelan? . . . I’d like to know what the Biden administration’s plan is for Paul Whelan.”

“We paid a heavy, heavy price for Brittney Griner, and I hope she now appreciates and respects the United States and all that this country has done for her.”

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.

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