Former President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at American WNBA star Brittney Griner as “spoiled,” and indicated he wouldn’t make any deals to get her out of prison in Russia because she “makes a lot of money.”
Griner was arrested in Moscow in February as she entered the country for a tournament when officials discovered vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.
Trump claimed on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show that Griner entered Russia “loaded up with drugs.”
In fact she had .7 grams (.024 ounces) of cannabis oil, which is legal in her home state of Arizona and in many other states in America. Russian media, which reported the amount, said officials considered it “significant.”
Griner, who said she had a doctor’s note for the cannabis oil, explained in a Russian court when she pleaded guilty early this month that she had forgotten that it was in her bag and brought it into the country inadvertently.
The athlete was arrested as Russian officials were railing against Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of transporting drugs.
Trump criticized reports that the U.S. is considering trading notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, being held in an American prison, to secure the release of Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on what U.S. officials call baseless espionage charges.
Griner “knew you don’t go in there loaded up with drugs, and she admitted it,” Trump said.
“I assume she admitted it without too much force because it is what it is, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a very good trade, does it?” he added. Bout is “absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s gonna be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs.”
Griner “went in there loaded up with drugs into a hostile territory where they’re very vigilant about drugs,” Trump complained. “They don’t like drugs. And she got caught.”
He added: “Now we’re supposed to get her out — and she makes, you know, a lot of money. We’re supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. Killed many Americans. Killed many people, and he’s going to get a free card,” Trump added.
Critics accused Trump of singling out Griner for criticism because she’s Black, gay and a woman.
He also has a long history of standing up for Russia, even against American interests, and frequently touts his great friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Putin launched the invasion into Ukraine earlier this year, the former president called it “genius.”
Trump openly asked for Russia’s help in 2016 to hack into rival Hillary Clinton’s emails, and then used material stolen by Russian spies to attack Clinton in the final stretch of the election.