WNBA star Brittney Griner's sentence of nine years in a Russian prison was far too long for a "too minor crime" of possession of cannabis oil, but her release in exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, whose nickname is the "Merchant of Death," means the return of an "evil man" who will "kill more Americans, more innocent people, and more people in general throughout the world," Rep. Jeff Van Drew told Newsmax on Thursday.
"To release this 'merchant of death,' who was involved with terrorism and actually supporting terrorism in the United States, whose goal is to kill Americans and to kill those in American authority is unbelievable," the New Jersey Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America" on Thursday, shortly after Griner's release was announced.
President Joe Biden, Van Drew added before the president addressed the nation about the release, will claim that it was a "great, genius move" to bargain for Griner's release, but "he has let an evil man go."
"It's smart on Russia's part because they arrested somebody for an extremely minor crime, and then they exchange them, and what they get is literally the "Merchant of Death" back in the safety of their country," Van Drew said. "This was a horrible exchange."
Meanwhile, U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive, has been jailed in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government have called baseless, and Van Drew said Biden "doesn't really seem to care as much" about securing his release.
"This is a president every step of the way who hasn't shown the right initiatives for so many of the problems we have," said Van Drew. "This is embarrassing to America, and it's shameful to this Marine and his family, and our military. No wonder we're having fewer people apply to the military than ever before — because they know they shouldn't be treated this way. They should be treated with honor and dignity, and we should be doing everything we can to get [Whelan] out."
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