The Biden administration is facing intense criticism from Republican lawmakers over the prisoner swap that resulted in the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for WNBA star Brittney Griner.
This move is being seen as a betrayal by many in the Republican Party, who believe that the administration should have prioritized securing the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been held in a Russian prison on espionage charges since 2018.
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., appeared on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” to discuss the issue, saying that the swap sends a “shameful” message to the U.S. military. “The real problem here is just the weakness of this president,” Green said. “We’ve 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?”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, also criticized the administration on Fox News’ “The Brian Kilmeade Show,” saying that the swap “paid a heavy, heavy price” for Griner’s release. “I would love to know what the Biden administration’s plan is for Paul Whelan,” she said.
David Whelan, Paul’s brother, also spoke out about the swap, expressing his joy at Griner’s release but his disappointment that his brother was not included in the deal. “She will be reunited with her family. Brittney is free. And Paul is still a hostage. But how many more times do I need to write that?” he wrote in a statement.
Despite the backlash, President Biden has said that the administration remains committed to securing Whelan’s release and will not give up on him. “We will never give up,” Biden said. However, many Republicans are skeptical of the administration’s intentions and are calling for more action to be taken to bring Whelan home.