‘You cannot help but wonder if he’s saying that because she’s a black basketball player’
“We have Donald Trump calling Brittney Griner ‘spoiled,’ and we have Donald Trump talking about her, citar, ‘loaded up with drugs.’ There’s been no testimony, no evidence, no suggestion that she was, citar, ‘loaded up with drugs’,” Mr Scarborough said during the MSNBC show on Monday morning.
“It once again shows just what a terrible guy this is, what a heinous human being. How cruel it is. And you cannot help but wonder if he’s saying that because she’s a black basketball player,” the former Congressman added.
Rev Al Sharpton said there was no doubt in his mind that Mr Trump had “taken liberties” with the basketball player’s reputation because she was black and openly gay.
The remarks came after Mr Trump claimed during a podcast interview that the US was getting a bad deal by offering to exchange notorious Russian convict Viktor Bout for Ms Griner, who was arrested with a small amount of cannabis at a Russian airport in February.
“It certainly doesn’t seem like a very good trade, does it?” Mr Trump asked.
“(Bout’s) absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he’s going to be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs.”
Mr Trump added that he would not have made a deal with the Russians for her release.
“They don’t like drugs. And she got caught. And now, we’re supposed to get her out — and she makes, você sabe, a lot of money, eu acho. We’re supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. Killed many Americans. Killed many people.”
Bout was convicted of trying to sell arms to the Colombian guerrilla group FARC in 2012.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to accept the US offer of swapping Griner and ex-US Marine Paul Whelan for Bout, an arms dealer nicknamed the “Merchant of Death”.
CNN reported that the Russians made a counter-demand that Vadim Krasikov, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence in Germany, be included in the deal.
US officials appear to have dismissed the offer.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN it was a “bad faith attempt to avoid a very serious offer”.
Ms Griner, 31, has been incarcerated since February when she was arrested for being in possession of a small amount of cannabis vape at an airport near Moscow.
Mr Whelan has been jailed in Russia on espionage charges since 2018.