US basketball player Brittney Griner's trial in Khimki
US basketball player Brittney Griner's trial in KhimkiREUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Former President Trump said on Sunday that when he was in the White House he turned down a deal that would have returned imprisoned American Paul Whelan to the US in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who last week was released by the Biden administration in an exchange for WNBA player Brittney Griner who had been jailed in Russia.

Whelan has been held in Russia for over four years at a labor camp in Russia's Mordovia republic, according to Fox News. Whelan was placed in custody by Russia in 2018 and was convicted of spying for the US. He faces 16 years in prison.

"I turned down a deal with Russia for a one on one swap of the so-called Merchant of Death for Paul Whelan," Trump said in a Truth Social post on Sunday evening.

"I wouldn’t have made the deal for a hundred people in exchange for someone that has killed untold numbers of people with his arms deals,” Trump added.

Trump said that the deal that exchanged Griner for Bout, who is known as the “Merchant of Death,” was “crazy and bad.”

"I would have gotten Paul out, however, just as I did with a record number of other hostages.” Trump said. "The taking wouldn’t have even happened during my Administration, but if it did, I would have gotten her out, fast!"

Trump also referred to the deal in a separate Truth Social post as “stupid” and “unpatriotic.”