Joe Biden proves once again that he is easily fleeced. On Thursday, the president traded Viktor Bout, the arms dealer who was taken prisoner by the United States in exchange for WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was arrested for smuggling drugs into Russia.
Viktor Bout is a Russian arms dealer and former Soviet military officer who was convicted of various crimes related to arms trafficking, and was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States.
Bout has been called the "Merchant of Death" due to the large amount of weapons he is alleged to have sold to various groups around the world, and his life was the subject of the Nicolas Cage movie “Lord of War.”
In a one-for-one trade, Griner, who was held for months in Russia on drug charges, was released in exchange for Bout.
“She's safe. She's on a plane. She's on her way home,” President Biden wrote in a tweet.
The swap reportedly took place in the United Arab Emirates, which served as a neutral country for both the Russian and U.S. governments to carry out the exchange that was negotiated in recent months and given final approval by Biden last week, according to sources familiar with the matter.
CBS reports that five former U.S. officials confirmed the deal last Thursday.
Biden was joined by Griner’s wife Cherelle, VP Kamala Harris, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Speaking to reporters shortly after her release, Biden said at the White House that he was “glad to be able to say Brittney is in good spirits,” adding that she was looking forward to coming home. Biden took an opportunity to blast his Russian counterparts by dismissing the “show trial in Russia” that led to Griner’s conviction, and insisted “she didn’t ask for special treatment.”
Despite successfully exchanging Griner for Bout, the Biden administration left behind retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who remains imprisoned in Russia following his conviction for espionage charges.
“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden insisted, adding that “we will never give up” on securing his release — which observers say could’ve been done as part of the Griner-for-Bout exchange.