President Joe Biden is getting slammed for leaving behind U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan in the recent prisoner swap with Russia, Fox News reports.
For those unfamiliar with Whelan, he is a Marine and an Iraqi war veteran who has been sitting in a Russian jail since 2018 on espionage charges. Whelan was convicted - wrongfully, both in his view and in the view of many others - on espionage charges, and he has been given a 16-year prison sentence.
The big news story on Thursday was the release of Women's National Basketball Association (WNBC) player Brittney Griner.
Griner landed herself in a Russian prison back in February after being caught, in violation of Russian law, with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner would go on to plead guilty, and she was sentenced to nine years in prison.
For some time, there have been news reports indicating that the Biden administration was negotiating with Russia for Griner's release. Those reports indicated that the Biden administration was trying to get Russia to swap Griner for the notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence for conspiring to kill Americans.
The two sides have now agreed to the swap, and it was carried on on Thursday. Griner, in fact, has already made her return to the U.S.
Biden and the White House celebrated the move, saying, "[Griner] represents the best about America — just across the board, everything about her." They further claimed that Griner "is an important role model" and "an inspiration to millions of Americans particularly the LGBTQI+ Americans and women of color."
Biden and his administration have been facing a serious backlash for the swap. Part of the criticism is that the trade of Griner for Bout just wasn't a fair trade considering, among other things, who Bout is.
But, another part of the criticism is that the Biden administration has left Whelan, a U.S. marine, behind.
Among those leading the criticism is former President Donald Trump. Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social:
What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our Country, for the man known as “The Merchant of Death,” who is one of the biggest arms dealers anywhere in the World, and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrific injuries. Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking. What a “stupid” and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!
It has become clear that many feel the same way.
Biden and the White House have attempted to ward the criticism off by claiming that "this was not a choice for us on which American to bring home: It was a choice between bringing home one American or none."
Biden also claims that he will " keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release."
Many, however, find Biden's comments unconvincing.