Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., doesn't think the Biden administration exerted maximum leverage in Thursday's hostage swap with Russia, a 1-for-1 deal involving WNBA star Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer.
If that were the case, then U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan and American Marc Fogel would have been on Griner's plane back to America, said Reschenthaler.
"Do I think Griner's an American hero? Absolutely not. But I [also] think she should have been brought home as an American citizen," Reschenthaler told Newsmax Thursday afternoon, while appearing on "The Chris Salcedo Show."
"When you're trading the 'Merchant of Death' [Bout's nickname], ... you should at least bring home at least more than one American," said Reschenthaler, while adding the Biden White House "prioritized" Griner over a Marine veteran and history teacher (Fogel).
From Reschenthaler's perspective, Griner — who had been detained in a Russian jail for eight months — had more cachet to the Biden administration than Whelan and Fogel, partly due to her race and sexual orientation.
Reschenthaler said it's clear the Biden administration "favors celebrities" or "anyone within their intersectional hierarchy."
Griner "got preferential treatment" over Whelan and Fogel, said Reschenthaler, who will serve as the House chief deputy whip when the Republican-controlled Congress convenes in January. "It's appalling and disgusting, and I want to know why [other detainees] weren't included in this swap."
Reschenthaler further explained that,while being detained in Russia, Griner had "one taste of socialism, and they ended up bringing her back. ... We gave up the 'Merchant of Death' for a basketball player."
The Griner-Bout swap represents a larger societal problem with how Democrats and the Biden administration perceive American citizens, reasons Reschenthaler.
Media and politicians working "inside the Washington, D.C. beltway look down on people living in flyover country. If you eat at a Cracker Barrel, shop at a Walmart, ... they're laughing at you," said Reschenthaler.
"That's what goes on in New York City and other coastal areas. These coastal elites don't put a value on what they perceive as 'country bumpkins' or 'hayseeds,'" added Reschenthaler.
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