Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., said Americans will be pleased WNBA star Brittney Griner is coming home after being detained in Russia for eight months but they should also be upset with the Biden administration's handling of a hostage swap that didn't include U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan.
"It's interesting and disappointing in what we see from the left that tends to say [America] is a 'racist, misogynist, and colonialist' country. These people tend to have never been abroad ... in countries where you can be snatched from the street and held [in jail] — for any reason," Waltz told Newsmax Thursday afternoon, while appearing on "American Agenda" with hosts Bob Sellers and Katrina Szish.
"We don't have a perfect country, but it's still the greatest in the world," said Waltz, while making the point that Griner has a public record of protesting America, but still returned home.
As for Whelan, a 51-year-old corporate security executive and Marine Corps veteran who's been sentenced to 16 years in prison in Russia for alleged espionage, Waltz characterized it as "phenomenally disappointing" the Biden White House couldn't negotiate his release — especially when the United States acquiesced in letting Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer, return to Russia.
"When do we start dictating the terms of hostage releases? What's the cost to [our adversaries] for this kind of behavior? Because they'll keep doing it," said Waltz, while criticizing President Joe Biden for exhibiting "the weakness of a president that just can't find enough concessions to make for the bad guys."
Iran, China and other adversarial nations are "taking note" at the Biden White House's penchant for freeing known global criminals when placed under public pressure.
When analyzing the Griner-for-Bout swap, Waltz said it's "a victory" for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bout "stole Russian arms all around the world" and made Putin and his Russian oligarchs "incredibly wealthy," said Waltz.
"And now, they have their No. 1 arms dealer right back in the mix," he said, just in time to help Russia in its ongoing war with Ukraine.
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