Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate and former news anchor Kari Lake said she would be inclined to refuse release from a Russian prison if the U.S. were trading someone like the “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout to get her free.
There seems to be a pretty wide consensus that the Biden administration got the short end of the negotiating stick in swapping WNBA star Brittney Griner for Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. on weapons charges.
Griner was convicted in August of illegal drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison, a ridiculous punishment, no doubt.
“Louder with Crowder” host Steven Crowder recounted some of Bout’s history for Lake, who was just learning of Griner’s release.
“She was traded for the ‘Merchant of Death,’ Viktor Bout, the guy who they did the film ‘Lord of War,’ where he, you know, sold like 30,000 AKs to guerilla drug dealers who were killing DEA agents. So we traded him for her. And, you know, this guy was responsible for countless deaths of Americans,” Crowder said.
Lake responded, “Wow. Why do I have a feeling if President [Donald] Trump were in office, it would’ve been handled so much better?”
Kari Lake says Brittney Griner should’ve refused release: “If you told me, we’re going to release you for this guy, I would maybe say, ‘you know what? Let me stay a little bit longer, keep working on that negotiation. Let’s see if we can find something a little bit more level'” pic.twitter.com/0f7VIjwC3C
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) December 8, 2022
The Trump administration was well-known for bringing Americans home (50, by Trump’s count) without the sort of embarrassing swaps that occurred during the Obama-Biden tenure.
The most infamous of which occurred in 2014 when five Taliban prisoners who were being held at Guantanamo Bay were traded for U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
Four of the five freed prisoners took positions in the new Taliban government in Afghanistan following the infamous U.S. withdrawal from the county in August 2021.
Additionally, the Obama administration in August 2016 delivered $400 million in cash to Iran on the same day four American prisoners were released. U.S. officials insisted at the time the two events were not connected… Right.
Crowder said of the Griner deal, “It’s a bad trade. I think most Americans … are happy that Brittney Griner is home, obviously, and just think that, ‘Hey, you know what? That’s a bad trade.’ And we made a trade from a position of weakness, not of strength.’”
Lake responded, “The conditions were obviously horrible, but if you told me, ‘We’re gonna release you for this guy,’ I would maybe say, ‘You know what, let me stay a little bit longer. Keep working on that negotiation. Let’s see if we can find something a little bit more level.'”
Lake’s view does call to mind the late Arizona Sen. John McCain’s refusal to be released ahead of other prisoners while a POW during the Vietnam War merely because his father was an admiral in charge of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet.
McCain explained that it would not be fair for him to be released ahead of other POWs who had been held longer. In that sense, Griner being freed before Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia on espionage charges since 2018, is similar to the deal McCain did not accept.
Griner has no doubt gone through a lot of trauma and uncertainty since being detained in February at a Moscow airport. Most Americans are surely glad she’s on her way home, but it sure feels like Biden got played on the international stage, once again.
No doubt Russian President Vladimir Putin cracked a big smile when American negotiators agreed to the lopsided swap.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.