Those who opposed the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, notoriously dubbed “the Merchant of Death,” in exchange for former WNBA star Brittney Griner are largely driven by racism and homophobia, according to Democrat consultant and political commentator James Carville.
Carville also claimed opposition to the swap “exposed a big big fault in American culture,” and said those opposed are likely “pro-Putin.”
Speaking on CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta on Saturday, Carville complained that racism and homophobia are significant drivers of opinion in America, suggesting that if Griner was a “blond Chi Omega from SMU” then the reaction would have been different.
“A lot of this, like a lot of things in America, are driven by the fact that this young person is not white and is not straight,” he said, without providing any proof of his assertion.
James Carville on CNN:
People who are criticizing the Griner exchange are racist Putin-lovers pic.twitter.com/sqg87nVr8a
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) December 11, 2022
He also insisted that anyone who did not believe that is “not in tune with American politics.”
“I’m sorry this is something that just has to be said,” he said.
The Democrat pundit then speculated that the position of not granting Russian President Vladimir Putin the release of a convicted arms dealer was somehow motivated by support for the Kremlin leader.
“In fact, another thing I’d make is most of the people that are criticizing this, not all, are pro-Putin [and] anti-Ukraine,” he said.
“This has exposed a big big fault in American culture,” he added.
In response, many took to social media to ridicule the Democrat political icon’s “backwards” suggestion.
“We the conservatives are not judging the situation on race and sexual preference; however, the left cannot look beyond that,” wrote one Twitter user.
“It’s pro-Putin to not want him to get a weapons smuggler back? Lmao,” wrote another.
“I think the Putin lovers give him his top arms dealer back,” another agreed.
“The real bigotry involves unleashing the ‘Merchant of Death’ on the rest of the world to free a lawbreaker because she is at the top of the ‘intersectional hierarchy,’” another user wrote.
“This is a completely backwards take,” wrote another. “Anybody who is pro-Russia ABSOLUTELY LOVES this trade.”
“Of course that’s what he says. It’s the lefts talking points for everything,” yet another wrote.
On Thursday, Breitbart News reported that Russia freed Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the U.S. releasing notorious Viktor Bout, whom the Justice Department once described as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers.
In 2010, Mike Braun, the former chief of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said that Bout was “one of the most dangerous men on the face of the Earth.”
Biden’s authorization of the swap underscored the escalating pressure that his administration faced to bring Griner home, particularly after the recent resolution of her criminal case and transfer to a penal colony.
“Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home,” Biden tweeted.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
Carville’s remarks follow the highly controversial swap, which has since spurred much criticism, including from top government officials.
On Sunday, Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) blasted the “lopsided” deal, calling it a “major propaganda victory” for Russia’s leader, as he accused President Joe Biden of allowing Putin to “dictate” the swap’s terms.
In addition, former President Donald Trump slammed the prisoner swap, labeling it “stupid” and an “unpatriotic embarrassment.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) warned the deal would result in the deaths of innocents as rogue states interpret the move as open season to arrest Americans, claiming that “more Americans will be detained, in some cases unjustly detained, in the future because they realize that Joe Biden — at least as long as he is president — will give away the farm in return for any American citizen.”
Former DEA agent Tom Pasquarello, who originally helped catch Bout, also blasted the exchange.
“I’m kind of in disbelief that someone with the potential to orchestrate arms deals that can kill Americans anywhere in the world would be traded for a prisoner,” he said.
“I think this sends a terrible message that the U.S. will negotiate, that the U.S. will make concessions and that, if an American is held overseas, there’s always the potential that the U.S. will acquiesce to the demands of people like Putin and bail them out,” he added.
Last month, Carville accused MAGA Republicans who run the GOP of being on crack cocaine.
In August, he argued that the “majority” of Republican voters are “stupid” and “evil.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.