Former President of the United States Donald Trump appears to want WNBA player Brittney Griner to remain in a Russian penitentiary.
Trump criticized the proposed prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia, in which Griner and former marine Paul Whelan would be exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Trump disparaged Griner as "a potentially spoiled person" who traveled to Russia "loaded up with drugs," an exaggeration of her cannabis arrest, during a podcast appearance on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time WNBA All-Star, has been imprisoned in Russia for months and is currently on trial for drug use.
"She knew you're not supposed to go in there loaded with drugs, and she admitted it," Trump stated.
Griner was detained and accused with unlawful drug possession and smuggling "considerable" quantities of cannabis.
According to the Russian government, customs agents discovered "vapes" containing hashish oil in Griner's luggage at a Moscow-area airport.
If Griner's destiny is left up to the Russian criminal court system, which heavily favors the prosecution, she has little prospect of release.
"She entered a tough zone where drug enforcement is extremely watchful carrying a large quantity of illegal substances," Trump said.
"They don't like drugs. She got caught. And now we're supposed to get her out, even though she makes a lot of money, I guess," Trump added.
In their first meeting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pushed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to approve a prisoner exchange.
According to the Associated Press, Blinken stated that he had a "frank and straight talk" with Lavrov on Friday, the primary topic of which was the prisoner exchange for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout.
Griner pleaded guilty, but said she accidentally carried cannabis into Russia. Her trial is currently proceeding, and she might face up to 10 years in prison.
CNN stated that the offer for Griner and Whelan has the endorsement of President Joe Biden, despite the fact that the U.S. government normally opposes prisoner swaps with other nations.
Biden successfully negotiated a prisoner exchange with Russia for former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed earlier this year. Reed stated that the Griner offer made him "cautiously optimistic" that the two Americans may return to the United States.
Trump has lauded Putin's invasion of Ukraine as "genius" as recently as this year.