Donald Trump has criticized a planned prisoner swap between the US and Russia, and WNBA star Brittany Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan have met with Russian arms dealer Victor Bout.
Mr. Trump appeared on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show on Saturday.
Ms Griner has been imprisoned in Russia for months and is now on trial on drug charges.
“She knew she wouldn’t go in there loaded with drugs, and she admitted it,” Mr Trump said.
“Surely doesn’t sound like a very good business, does it?” he added regarding Bun. “He’s absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s going to be freed because he’s going to get into Russia with a load of drugs.”
Regarding Russian law, he said: “They don’t like drugs. And she was caught. And now, we’ve got to get her out – and she, you know, makes a lot of money, I guess. We have to take her out as an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. He killed many Americans. He killed a lot of people.”
In his first speech since Russia invaded Ukraine, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to accept a prisoner swap for Ms Griner and Mr Whelan.
Mr. Blinken said he had a “clear and direct discussion” with Mr. Lavrov on Friday, which focused primarily on a prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, the Associated Press reported.
“I urge Foreign Minister Lavrov to pursue that idea,” Mr. Blinken said.
Russian officials have given no indication that they will accept the American proposal, he said.
“I can’t give you an estimate of whether that would be more or less.”
Mr. Blinken’s call focused primarily on the idea of leaving Americans.
A senior US diplomat added that they have pressured their Russian counterpart to comply with the agreement to allow Ukrainian grain shipments to leave the Black Sea.
Russian forces bombed the port of Odessa last week, 24 hours after agreeing to allow the shipments to continue.
He said he had told Mr Lavrov that the US would not recognize any of the annexed Ukrainian lands, according to AP.
Mr Blinken also warned of dire consequences if the Russians went ahead with reported plans to annex parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.
The United States government said on Wednesday it had offered Ms. Greener and Mr. Whelan several weeks in exchange for Bout, a notorious arms dealer nicknamed the “dealer of death.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Moscow had not yet accepted the terms of the deal.
Ms Griner, 31, has been arrested since February when she was caught with a small quantity of cannabis vape at an airport near Moscow.
Mr Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges.