WNBA player Brittney Griner said she was initially grateful for former President Donald Trump’s support in seeking her release from Russian imprisonment but later found it “disheartening” when the former president slammed the Biden administration for its negotiated deal with Russia that brought her home.

Griner was held in Russia for 10 months after being arrested on Feb. 17, 2022, for transporting cannabis oil, which is illegal in the country, in her bag.

In December of that year, Griner’s release came as part of a prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, but Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine who is considered to have been wrongfully detained in a Russian prison since 2020 on espionage charges, was not included as part of the deal.


“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!!!” Trump wrote in a post to Truth Social.

In the second part of an interview that aired Tuesday, Griner told MSNBC host Joy Reid that she felt Trump was “almost” using her as a political pawn.

“I was already being used as a pawn,” Griner said, referencing previous comments made about feeling Russian President Vladimir Putin was making the most of her hostage situation.

“Then to turn around and publicly be used, almost be used again as a pawn, you know, here in the states with his administration. You know, it was disheartening. It was like, really? At my lowest point, you want to try to use this as a game, and then when it doesn’t work or someone tells you not to do it, whatever happened, now you want to flip it. It’s like, really? Really, guy? Come on.”