Politics

The GOP Is Refusing To Celebrate Brittney Griner’s Release

Republicans and right-wing media figures have discovered a litany of causes to be mad in regards to the launch of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was freed in a prisoner swap Thursday after almost a year within the Kremlin’s clutches.

Much of their rhetoric facilities on the bigoted assertion that Griner ― a Black, homosexual athlete who has been vocal about police brutality and racial justice ― is anti-American for being outspoken in politics, and subsequently unworthy of rescue by the Biden administration.

Ex-President Donald Trump had probably the most aggressive assaults Thursday, writing on his social media platform Truth Social that Griner is “a basketball player who openly hates our Country” and that it was a “‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA” to free her in change for Viktor Bout, a infamous Russian arms vendor.

His feedback had been a not-so-subtle reference to Griner’s participation in protests in opposition to police brutality. Following the 2020 police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Griner, who performs for the Phoenix Mercury, joined {many professional} athletes in calling consideration to their deaths by refusing to face for the nationwide anthem throughout video games and calling for the anthem to not be performed in any respect.

Trump wasn’t the one GOP determine to harp on Griner’s protests Thursday.

“I sure hope she’ll stand for the national anthem,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) told reporters.

WNBA star Brittney Griner waits for the verdict inside a defendants' cage during a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow on Aug. 4.
WNBA star Brittney Griner waits for the decision inside a defendants’ cage throughout a listening to in Khimki exterior Moscow on Aug. 4.

EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA by way of Getty Images

“I wonder if Brittney Griner will sing and stand for the National Anthem now that the United States has compromised national security to free her?” Tomi Lahren, a outstanding Fox News persona, tweeted, including in a bizarre jab about girls’s athletics: “I guess it pays to be a whiny celebrity who plays sports (even if no one watches).”

Others prompt Griner was much less worthy of launch than Paul Whelan, an ex-Marine who has been detained in Russia since 2018 on accusations of being a spy. The Russians, U.S. officers defined Thursday, had been unwilling to barter on Whelan, whom they think about to be a extra essential prisoner. President Joe Biden stated Thursday that Russia’s reasoning is “totally illegitimate” and that efforts to free Whelan are persevering with.

But not one of the GOP figures complaining about Griner’s launch acknowledged these nuances.

“Where is U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly held by Russia for far longer?” Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) tweeted. “Celebrities over veterans?”

“Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking,” insisted Trump, who stayed silent on Whelan all through his presidency.

“So [Biden] just traded an enemy who smuggles guns and helps shoot Americans for an American who smuggles drugs and shoots basketballs, all while a former US Marine, Paul Whelan, rots in a Russian prison,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) tweeted. “Let that sink in.”

The barb he snuck in calling Griner a drug smuggler is extreme and deceptive. Griner was detained at a Russian airport in February for carrying vaporizer cartridges containing lower than a gram of hash oil, not for working some form of worldwide drug-running scheme.

Whelan and his household stated Thursday they had been stunned and dissatisfied U.S. officers weren’t in a position to safe his launch alongside Griner’s, however they did so with out attacking her or making unfair comparisons.

“I was led to believe that things were moving in the right direction, and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon,” Whelan, who’s 4 years right into a 16-year sentence for espionage, told CNN. He additionally acknowledged that Russia is treating him in a different way than Griner and put him “at a level higher” in negotiations.

His household additionally gave a press release to Fox News, which ran a prolonged opinion story demanding Griner begin standing for the nationwide anthem, saying they applaud the Biden administration for making “the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen.”

Some GOP leaders HuffPost spoke to Thursday pushed again on their colleagues’ rhetoric.

“Very pleased she’s coming home. Pleased for her, her family, our country,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) stated. “They’d like to bring home an arms dealer. It’s symbolic of their country that that’s what they consider important to return.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) additionally praised Biden’s choice and acknowledged Whelan’s return as a separate matter.

Ernst stated: “I’m very thankful that she’s coming home. Any time we can get an American home, that’s good. We paid a very heavy price to get her released, and there’s still no path forward on Paul Whelan.”

Igor Bobic contributed reporting.

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