Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy confronted White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at Thursday’s briefing about Russia getting a “better deal” in the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner.
President Joe Biden’s administration struck a deal with Russia to release WNBA star Brittney Griner from her nine-year sentence in a Russian penal colony in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. The WNBA star was arrested in the country on Feb. 17 after she attempted to leave with marijuana.
“Why did Russia get such a better deal?” he asked.
“I’ve talked about this and I’ll say this again, here were our choices. Our choices [were] Brittney or no one at all. Bringing home one American or no American at all,” the press secretary said.
“In bringing home a professional athlete, we gave up a prolific arms dealer who was convicted of trying to kill Americans who’s called the ‘Merchant of Death,'” he said.
“The professional athlete is also an American citizen, so let’s not forget that who deserved, and I’ve explained how the Russians have illegally treated, totally illegitimately, treated his situation,” she said. “I’ve been very clear on that, we’ve laid that out for you and again, the president felt that this was an opportunity to bring Brittney home. He is going to do everything he can to bring Paul Whelan home just like he did with Trevor Reed. Just like he was able to secure Trevor Reed’s release.”
Doocy referenced Biden’s previous remark of having no plan to call Russian President Vladimir Putin unless he is interested in ending the war in Ukraine. The press secretary touted the administration’s ability to return Griner to the U.S. and vowed to put in all efforts possible to bring home Paul Whelan, whom Russia imprisoned in 2020 on spying charges. (RELATED: Kamala’s Brittany Griner Comments Spark Mega Social Media Backlash)
“How can you say he’s going to do everything he can if he said just a few days ago he’s not going to call Vladimir Putin until further notice?” Doocy continued.
“We were able to do this through different channels, right? We were able to do this through different avenues, folks from the U.S. government, that were able to make that negotiation, have those conversations and secure Brittany’s return. We have been able to do this and the president has been committed to getting this done.”
Russia was reportedly dissatisfied with the deal and criticized the U.S. for disclosing their negotiations. A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson said that the two countries are undergoing “quiet diplomacy” following the disclosure of the negotiations.
Doocy then questioned the press secretary about a previous question posed by his colleague, Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, asking if the Biden campaign communicated with Twitter about suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story prior to the 2020 presidential election. Jean-Pierre repeatedly dodged the question both Wednesday and Thursday.
“You said a few times you really can’t talk about communications between the Biden campaign and Twitter, who is telling you that that’s off limits?” Doocy asked.
“I had that conversation with your colleague I believe yesterday,” the press secretary replied. “I’ve already addressed this multiple times this week so I don’t have anything more to add. Again, we’ve litigated this all week, don’t have anything to add.”