Biden Explains Why He Swapped Russian 'Merchant Of Death' For WNBA Star

Brittney Griner by Lorie Shaull is licensed under Lorie Shaull

During his announcement from the White House, with Griner's family present, Biden spent a lot of time defending his administration from widespread accusations that Griner's release was prioritized because of her fame while at the same time other detained Americans were left behind.

"This was not a choice of which American to bring home," Biden said while vowing to continue working on freeing detained US Marine veteran Paul Whelan. 61-year old teacher Marc Fogel is also languishing in Russian prison. 

An understandably very frustrated and "devastated" Whelan family has issued the following statement upon the White House announcement of Griner's release:

Despite the possibility that there might be an exchange without Paul, our family is still devastated. I can't even fathom how Paul will feel when he learns. Paul has worked so hard to survive nearly 4 years of this injustice. His hopes had soared with the knowledge that the US government was taking concrete steps for once towards his release. He'd been worrying about where he'd live when he got back to the US. And now what? How do you continue to survive, day after day, when you know that your government has failed twice to free you from a foreign prison? I can't imagine he retains any hope that a government will negotiate his freedom at this point. It's clear that the US government has no concessions that the Russian government will take for Paul Whelan. And so Paul will remain a prisoner until that changes.

Brittney Griner by Lorie Shaull is licensed under Lorie Shaull