Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner a bad trade according to Florida Republicans

griner russia ap
'Celebrities over veterans?'

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that U.S. Olympian Brittney Griner was coming home, but Florida Republicans are questioning the deal, with one labeling it “weak and disgusting.”

Florida Sen. Rick Scott said he was “glad” Griner, imprisoned in Russia since February for holding a cannabis vape cartridge, was coming home. But he also noted another high-profile Russian captive was not returning in the trade that brought Griner home in exchange for notorious international arms dealer Viktor Bout.

“I’m glad Brittney is coming home … but what about U.S. Marine vet Paul Whelan? He’s still held by Putin in Russia. For Biden to give Putin a dangerous arms dealer — someone known as the ‘Merchant of Death’ — is weak & disgusting. Doing so while leaving Paul behind is unforgivable,” Scott tweeted Thursday morning.

Scott’s Senate colleague had his own qualms about the questionable quid pro quo.

“It is always a relief when a U.S. citizen comes home. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration’s handling of this situation leaves behind other Americans, like veteran Marine Paul Whalen and teacher Marc Fogel. What’s more, Putin and others have seen how detaining high-profile Americans on relatively minor charges can both distract American officials and cause them to release truly bad individuals who belong behind bars,” asserted Marco Rubio, in a statement from his Senate office.

U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz made a similar point in his own Thursday morning tweet.

“Where is U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly held by Russia for far longer? Celebrities over veterans?”

Rep. Byron Donalds, also wondering why other Americans were left behind, said he was “overwhelmingly concerned about this administration’s incompetent negotiating abilities.”

“Trading a U.S. celebrity for a Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death” while simultaneously leaving behind a U.S. MARINE, Paul Whelan, is mind-blowing and defies logic,” Donalds tweeted.

Later Thursday, Rep. Matt Gaetz added his own commentary: “I bet when Paul Whelan was learning the skills to be a Marine he never thought that his country would have prioritized him more if he had a jump shot.”

Biden addressed Whelan’s continued detention Thursday. He vowed that the fight to bring him home would continue. Whelan was arrested in 2018 on suspicions of espionage and has been detained since in Russia.

Christina Pushaw, who has been both an official and political spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis, also castigated the White House prisoner swap Thursday, with a tweet spotlighting the Nicolas Cage vehicle Lord of War”. That 2005 film is based on the life of Bout.

“So about the Russian criminal Biden freed in exchange for Brittany Griner — this movie covers his career funneling weapons to terrorists & conspiring to kill Americans. Biden just created an incentive for foreign countries to arrest more Americans to get more sweet deals like this,” Pushaw contended.

President Biden presented the prisoner swap as a feel-good moment. But what’s clear is Republicans in the Sunshine State don’t feel good about it.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • tom palmer

    December 8, 2022 at 10:20 am

    Pretty predictable response; nothing Biden will ever do, no matter how laudable , will fail to draw GOP sniping.

    • Kaz

      December 8, 2022 at 10:56 am

      Your an idiot. It’s about who he traded for her and not adding the marine. Think we are all happy griner is safe, but for biden to make this a feel good story when marine left behind and giving up arms dealer shows how stupid you are

      • Mother Superior Slapshot, Bishop Hedman Academy

        December 8, 2022 at 11:58 am

        Well now, Mister or Miss Kaz, let’s show how we can use the English language correctly before we start calling other people “idiot” and “stupid.”
        “Your” is not a substitute for “You’re.” You see, when you wrote “Your an idiot,” you meant “You are an idiot,” right? That calls for the contraction “You’re.” As in, “You’re an idiot.”
        That error, in addition to your failure to capitalize proper nouns and put a period at the end of your last sentence, makes it look very much like you are (you’re) the idiot, bless your heart.

        • Anon

          December 8, 2022 at 7:46 pm

          calm down dude

        • Mark

          December 8, 2022 at 10:16 pm

          You are an idiot, failing to understand the validity of the situation.

        • Mark

          December 8, 2022 at 10:18 pm

          You are an idiot, failing to understand the validity of the situation. Plus you are fool a very stupid fool. You are what is wrong with America, You

          • Joe Corsin

            December 9, 2022 at 1:57 pm

            Everyone in Florida is an idiot. How about that.

    • Gina Thomas

      December 9, 2022 at 6:12 pm

      I thought this was tongue in cheek at first. I used to be a Democrat for most of my life. Honest to God, I can’t find one thing Biden has done that is laudable. Actually, I find much to be disgusted about. What a shame because there have been many good Democrats, decades ago.

    • KB

      December 11, 2022 at 2:24 pm

      😂😂😂 no different than how dems react to ANYTHING Trump has done since riding down the golden elevator & making his presidential rum announcement.

      • Gina Thomas

        December 11, 2022 at 2:40 pm

        Now with all we now learn about the Twitter Files, never more true. The statement should be, is there nothing the Democrats won’t DO to slam the GOP.

  • Richard Bruce

    December 8, 2022 at 10:41 am

    Since Pres. Biden has been President, Pres. Putin has gotten richer and more powerful, all while having a serious illness. This trade will cause more death and destruction by unleashing an Int’l arms trader upon the world. At least a few hundred will enjoy watching a drug using B-ball player kneel during the National Anthem.

    • Elliott Offen

      December 8, 2022 at 10:46 am

      Losing a war makes someone more powerful? That’s news to me. Lately conservatives have a nasty habit of thinking something is correct just because they thought it period. I see you are no acception. You people are de-evolving back into apes and plans are in the works to deal with that.

      • Mike

        December 8, 2022 at 6:18 pm

        Well miss or mr. Offen, or what ever pronoun you respond to, you think it is ok to leave an ex Marine who has been held for four years unjustly and prioritize the release of a BLM wnba player who despises Our country and refuses to stand for Our National Anthem. Is that your plan to destroy Our great country, nice by calling people Apes. Would be nice if you woke up and realized how YOUR killing this country.

        • Anon

          December 8, 2022 at 7:48 pm

          where did Offen say anything about it being ok to leave an ex marine behind? Read carefully, ok Mike?

      • Mark

        December 8, 2022 at 10:25 pm

        OK Offen, if you and your liberals think they can really deal with anything, bring it boy. Love to see you and your liberal friends, or whatever step out into the street and see who is left standing, Anytime and place, just name it.

        • Elliott Offen

          December 9, 2022 at 1:59 pm

          @At Mark: Ok I’ll tell you where to meet and then inform police. They’ll pick you up and take you to jail for terrorism or whatever crime we tell them you are there to commit. The right wing is the dumbest side. This is their downfall.

      • Jacob T

        December 9, 2022 at 3:49 am

        You are no “exception”. If you’re going to pretend that you have the moral and philosophical high ground (you only think you do) and anyone that disagrees with you is wrong. At least get basic grammar correct. While I am independent and vote both ways depending on candidates and their views. I can say with 100% certainty progressive democrats always believe they have the moral high ground, and anyone who disagrees must be “racist” “transphobic” , “Islamophobic” or any other “ism” or “phobic”
        etc. While republicans also have their innumerable faults, the amount of self righteousness coming from some on the left is downright comedic.

    • Sumwon

      December 8, 2022 at 9:15 pm

      The trade sucks, we give the Russian’s a weapons trader for a lesbian who has protested against America. Should leave her there to serve the sentence she was given for bringing drugs into a country that rightfully regard’s marijuana as a illegal drug. She thinks because liberal California USA took it off the dangerous drug list doesn’t mean Russia has become a liberal country.

    • Linwood Wright

      December 9, 2022 at 1:28 am

      We get it. You don’t like her because she’s black. 🤔

      If there’s a Republican out there who isn’t a flaming racist, I have yet to meet them.

      • levi

        December 14, 2022 at 10:08 am

        it isn’t because she is black, it is that we traded a international arms dealer for a celebrity over a marine that has fought for this country and no republicans are not racist, if you think keeping cartel smugglers from entering america is racist then you need to wake up

    • Al

      December 9, 2022 at 3:47 pm

      A lot people may also feel sick Trump is still around living in freedom after what he did Jan 6th.
      The deaths that occurred are on him.
      Why don’t you consider focusing on traitors in the USA?

  • Joe Corsin

    December 8, 2022 at 10:42 am

    Republicans are tasteless, un-American filth. The GOP is the biggest Russian asset I ever saw. These conservatives should be killed.

    • SumWon

      December 8, 2022 at 9:22 pm

      And conservative’s say the same about liberals. But the conservatives have seen what the liberal democrats have done since their democrat “ Nathan Bedford Morris “ formed the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan” and attacked blacks and GOP members for over 150 years, and selling false stories about Republicans. All while white washing what they have done since their inception. Go read a history book without liberal influence, there is none, they have white washed ALL the history books.

    • Mark

      December 8, 2022 at 10:27 pm

      Bring it boy

      • Joe Corsin

        December 9, 2022 at 2:01 pm

        You people are dumb so you will lose. You’ll be tricked and greased. Ambushed and taken for your socks. Arrested and sent up the road.

        • levi

          December 14, 2022 at 10:05 am

          And you will be overthrown by the very people you think will just willingly give up their guns

    • Dr. Franklin Waters

      December 9, 2022 at 1:45 am

      The Republican Party is absolutely in the pocket of the Kremlin.
      No question about it.

  • Hartmut

    December 8, 2022 at 11:51 am

    Playing politics either way. The Whelan deal was a no go! That’s why the Whelan family congratulated the President on the release of Britney Griner. Of course success needs to be criticized by the “Party of Zero Accomplishments for 6 decades”!

  • Hartmut

    December 8, 2022 at 11:55 am

    Playing politics either way. The Whelan deal was a no go! That’s why the Whelan family congratulated the President on the release of Britney Griner. Of course success needs to be criticized by the “Party of Zero Accomplishments for 6 decades”! Plus Whelan was detained 12/2018 , why didn’t Trump who supposedly is the Master Negotiator free Whelan. At least he could have made Whelan party of the dream when trading US Secrets with Putin!

    • Luke

      December 9, 2022 at 11:35 am

      It is not about not freeing Whelan, it is about freeing Griner over Whelan. That’s the crucial point you are missing. The Kremlin offered the Bout-Whelan exchange while Trump was president but Trump turned it down citing “the magnitude of Bout’s crimes”, effectively stating that is was a bad deal (to get Whelan back at such a high price of Bout). The point people who keep using “whataboutism” like you are missing is that Biden just took a far worse deal; that is why he is being criticized – not that he didn’t get Whelan back, but that he chose to get Griner back over Whelan. I hope that clarifies it for you.

      And, to believe that the Whelan deal was a no-go, when the Kremlin was the one who literally offered that deal just a few years prior, come on. Either that is untrue and you are foolish to believe it, or Biden’s administration truly are the worst negotiators in history – take your pick.

      And by the way, you should maybe re-read the Whelan’s family comments, they were very sardonic, stating something to the effect of: “We are really happy to at least know a day early that Paul wasn’t coming home, so we could prepare for the devastation, unlike the last time they didn’t get him out.”

  • Andrew Finn

    December 8, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    Trading Brittney Griner for “The Merchant of Death” — REALLY ?!?! Congratulations Joe Biden – you have proven once and for all what a moron you are. Meanwhile, Paul Whelan continues to rot in a Russian prison. Oh yeah, he’s a white veteran, not a black, gay, basketball star. I almost forgot we must always kiss ass to certain groups of people in order to remain politically correct. Too bad this happened (on purpose) after the midterm election. Think about that timing for a minute !! Maybe we could swap Nancy Pelosi for Paul Whelan and throw in Adam and the rest of the bunch too. — Nah, never happen — Putin is not as stupid as Biden !!!!!!!!

  • Jim

    December 8, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    This is beyond stupid. Trading the merchant of death for a disrespectful basketball player. I am having a tough time wrapping my tiny brain around this. I find this so sad that our government would do this and not get a fellow Marine out also. If I were in Whelan’s shoes I’d definitely be dissing Biden for being such an idiot. (I just wasn’t able to put the word President in front of Biden’s name) Biden is not coming across as being very Presidential.

  • PeterH

    December 8, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    I think it’s very very sad that neither Rick Scott or Donald Trump, two Republicans aligned with dictator Vlad Putin, didn’t work to secure the release of U.S. Marine vet Paul Whelan. Why is that?

    Now we’re in the middle of an Ukraine – Russia war and Republicans have the audacity to politicize a reasonable prisoner exchange.

    We have spies in Russia and yes they will monitor any future ‘arms deal’ actions of Viktor Bout!

    Republicans are America’s biggest problem!

    Vote all Republicans out of office…… until the learn how to extract themselves from the ‘pity pot’ of Trumpism.

    • levi

      December 14, 2022 at 10:03 am

      trump is not affiliated with putin and he didn’t take the deal because the price was too risky and no republicans are not america’s problem democrats are, republicans stand for what america is, a republic

  • Britt W

    December 8, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    ABSURB. We trade a gargoyle looking heathen who hates America for a notorious arms dealer? Classic woke liberals. Biden is an absolute moron. Griner should stay there. “She” (if that’s what you want to call it) doesn’t even like it here. It’s about time to release everyone else who is in jail on minor drug charges too then

    • Linwood Wright

      December 9, 2022 at 1:44 am

      Classic hateful Republican response.

      But I do agree that we should release anybody in jail on drugs charges.

  • SumWon

    December 8, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    The trade sucks, we give the Russian’s a weapons trader for a lesbian who has protested against America. Should leave her there to serve the sentence she was given for bringing drugs into a country that rightfully regard’s marijuana as a illegal drug. She thinks because liberal California USA took it off the dangerous drug list doesn’t mean Russia has become a liberal country.

    • Linwood Wright

      December 9, 2022 at 1:42 am

      Wow, that was some of the most idiotic word salad i’ve ever read. Were you drunk when you wrote that?

      Maybe try weed next time.

  • Josh Green

    December 9, 2022 at 1:41 am

    Griner was foolish, but she’s not a criminal. Marijuana is harmless and now legal in one form or another in most of the US now.

    It’s too bad we couldn’t get Paul Whelan back too, but getting a guy back that was convicted of espionage is going to be a lot more difficult. I wouldn’t expect Biden to give a Russian spy back so easily either.

  • Darrent Wilson

    December 9, 2022 at 2:53 am

    Nobody watches WNBA or NBA anyway. Not even sure who this dope smoking girl is. It buying her book and don’t you either !

    Glad she ok.

  • Pete Wilson

    December 9, 2022 at 9:19 am

    Biden got the former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed back home on April 27 2022. Oh wait they are talking about Paul Whelan the former U.S. Marine who was dishonorably discharged for trying to steal $10,000. He got caught in Russia with a thumb drive full of top secrets and was convicted of espionage. It is not that easy to get someone like that with his prior history out compared to a first offender for marijuana.

  • Allen

    December 9, 2022 at 10:05 am

    Well can we just stop talking about her now and get her face out of the news. This administration and party made a great deal….. for themselves. They pleased the black community, the drug users, the celebrities, the lesbians, and the sports community. All is well. Give joe and the democrats a pat on the back, well done! And all they had to do was let a notorious, murdering, arms dealing, thug walk free. Well at least she’s free now… to do her drugs, and be with her wife, and have the freedom to continue to disrespect America. Please people, please! If we can just make it 2 more years without being completely destroyed as a nation by this present administration. We can and must turn it around and bring some hope back. TRUMP IS NOT the answer. The democrats are not the answer. Can we just get a man of God in office who has a backbone and a sense of judgment and justice., who will do the right thing.
    Please pray God will put some man in office who will start this nation moving in the right direction..toward God’s way, and not the devil’s way.

    • levi

      December 14, 2022 at 10:21 am

      trump is the answer, not some batshit christian who most likely would try to make it illegal to follow other religion or be a atheist

  • Joshua Richison

    December 9, 2022 at 12:05 pm

    Here is a question I have, why is no one questioning why would our government trade for someone who committed a crime on foreign soil, and same crime here has more than a million people locked up for in our on country? What’s the message they are sending to our people?

    • Joe Corsin

      December 9, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      Drugs would be legal and regulated if the government didn’t think it profits somehow from it being illegal. Also it enforces class structure when a drug charge is on your record. People can pay you less and discriminate against you. Cops and jail officers get more work etc.

      • Jf

        December 10, 2022 at 9:24 am

        Drug addicts that have legit money that wasn’t stolen to support there addiction may be ok but when they run out of it is the problem and pray on our children to sell too just to support there addiction.

  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    December 9, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    Russia wanted a spy convicted on murder charges released for Whelan. And Republicans are angry we didn’t free a murderer so that a black girl caught with weed could go free instad.

    Republicans are absolutely f*cked in the head.

    • Allen

      December 9, 2022 at 3:37 pm

      This current administration did release a murderer, probably responsible for many murders, for a drug using celebrity. Think clearly man. Your buddies are the ones that are ______ in the head.

  • David Hogg

    December 9, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Paul Whelan is no hero. He was dishonourably discharged from the Marines for multiple counts of Larceny after being Court Martialed. He lied about being a police officer and a deputy sheriff. He play fast and loose with the truth and the law. None of the right wing pundits ever mention that part.

  • Gina Thomas

    December 9, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    No matter who was the trade, releasing Viktor Bout was a terrible mistake. There were others the Biden administration could have used or if Bout had to be on the table, their negotiators were inept not to have had three Americans released, starting with who has been there the longest. No matter what, Paul Whelan served in the marines. Britteny Griner is a basketball player who was playing on a Russian team, she said the National Anthom should not be played and she was pretty stupid to bring drugs to a draconian country.

  • Leon Jefferson

    December 9, 2022 at 11:21 pm

    I agree. Viktor is selling heavy artillery to people to shoot down American planes.

    We let out a very dangerous person who is now going to look for REVENGE on America.

    Worst trade ever. The WNBA person knew that it was illegal to bing dope to a Russian airport. She thought she was a celebrity and was above the law. She was wrong on all accounts. Who is she ? A WNBA player? No one watches it.

  • Jeff

    December 11, 2022 at 8:48 am

    Let’s look at the long term effects of the trade to see if it’s a good trade. Releasing Griner will please several groups, who will be more likely to give Joe their votes come next election. Releasing the Merchant of Death arms dealer will undoubtedly cost many innocent lives in the future. So what does Joe do? He chooses to get re-elected over saving lives. That doesn’t surprise me at all. Like a previous poster said, we need to get this guy out and the answer isn’t Trump. Can someone check my spelling and grammar and let me know if it is acceptable?

  • lion

    December 17, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Cold hard facts! …Griner for a russian arms dealer was stupid deal!
    Biden is just trying to please the black race thumbing his nose at the whites in america!
    Griner has done nothing for americas security..but the marine has!
    Biden has lost his mind!

Comments are closed.


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