Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) predicted on Thursday that leftist President Joe Biden’s decision to trade imprisoned basketball player Brittney Griner for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “merchant of death,” would result in people dying as rogue states interpreted the move as open season to arrest Americans.
Cotton’s remarks came in an appearance on the SiriusXM Patriot program Breitbart News Daily hosted by Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow.
Biden announced and the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Griner and Bout were both free.
“As a result of the efforts made, we managed to agree with the American side to arrange an exchange of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner. The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland,” the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed.
Biden said he personally spoke to Griner in a post on Twitter.
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
Asked by Alex Marlow if people would die as a result of Viktor Bout being released from prison, Sen. Cotton answered in the affirmative.
“I think they will because, again, Viktor Bout is known as the merchant of death for a reason,” Sen. Cotton said. “It’s not like he’s going to retire to the Black Sea and peacefully live out his golden years in a quiet retirement. [Russian leader] Vladimir Putin wanted him out for a reason.”
Sen. Cotton also noted that his release would likely embolden the abduction and potential killing of more Americans.
“I also think 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,” Sen. Cotton said.
Griner was arrested and sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia in August for possession of cannabis, prompting international outrage. American officials and activists condemned the Putin regime for sentencing Griner for so long on non-violent charges, an apparent political move to leverage her detention for Moscow’s benefit.
Bout was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for arms trafficking, aiding terrorist organizations, and conspiring to kill Americans. A notorious arms dealer with a lengthy career of aiding international terrorists, Bout was arrested in a sting operation in which American DEA officials posed as potential buyers tied to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terrorist organization. The DEA officials explicitly stated they wanted to weapons to kill Americans, to which Bout allegedly replied, “we have the same enemy.”
Bout’s release comes two months after Biden similarly agreed to free Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, nephews of Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro arrested trying to traffic 800 kilograms of cocaine into New York. The cocaine reportedly belonged to the FARC.
Notably absent from the prisoner swap was Paul Whelan, a former Marine wrongfully imprisoned in Russia on unsubstantiated spying charges.
Sen. Cotton lamented that no reports indicated at press time that Whelan had been part of the prisoner swap deal, questioning why his release, given his totally unjustified imprisonment, was not a priority.
Elsewhere in the interview, Sen. Cotton condemned Biden for his “incredible appeasement of Vladimir Putin.”
“Viktor Bout has the blood of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocents around the world on his hands,” Sen. Cotton noted. “Don’t get me wrong, Brittney Griner was wrongly detained and used as a negotiating chip with the Biden administration and we should have been engaged in efforts to try to secure her release.”
“But to exchange her, who – to be fair – did violate the laws of a foreign country to which she was traveling, in return for one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers is folly to the greatest degree,” Sen. Cotton lamented.
“What does Joe Biden think is going to happen now?” he continued. “Every time someone wants to get their arms traffickers or their drug dealers out of American prison, all they have to do is arrest an American on some trivial charge and sentence them to nine years and Joe Biden is going to come running with the keys to the prison to release people who are justifiably in prison.”
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