Brittney Griner freed from Russian custody in prisoner swap

The latest on WNBA star Brittney Griner’s release from a Russian penal colony in a prisoner swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout, including US lawmaker reaction.
10:08 | 12/08/22

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Transcript for Brittney Griner freed from Russian custody in prisoner swap
SHE IS PUSHING FOR MORE PROTECTION IN OUR SCHOOLS. BUT WE DO BEGIN WITH THE DRAMATIC RELEASE OF THE WNBA STAR FREED FROM A RUSSIAN COLONY AND HEADING BACK TO THE U.S. AFTER NEARLY 300 DAYS OF IMPRISONMENT. >> NEW VIDEO FROM RUSSIAN STATE VIDEO SHOWS BRITTNEY GRINER BEFORE SHE WAS RELEASED INTO U.S. CUSTODY. AT ONE POINT IN THIS FOOTAGE YOU CAN SEE GRINER IN THE VIDEO ASKING QUESTIONS -- ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT HER RELEASE. >> ARE YOU READY? >> YES. >> DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU'RE HEADING TO TO? >> NO. >> YOU ARE FLYING BACK HOME. >> TO THE U.S.? >> TO THE U.S. >> WHAT A MOMENT THERE. AFTER THAT BIDEN ADMINISTRATION STRUCK A DEAL TO RELEASE A CONVICTED RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER, VIKTOR BOUT, IN EXCHANGE FOR GRINER. >> PRESIDENT BIDEN TWEETING THE PHOTO WITH HIM CONFIRMING SHE WILL BE COMING BACK SOON AFTER MONTHS OF INTENSE NEGOTIATIONS. YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE WI-FI HER SIDE -- BY HIS SIDE. THE PRESIDENT ALSO SPEAKING TODAY ALONGSIDE BRITTNEY GRINER'S WIFE. >> THIS IS A DAY WE HAVE WORKED TOWARD FOR A LONG TIME. NEVER STOPPED PUSHING FOR HER RELEASE. IT TOOK PAINSTAKING AND INTENSE NEGOTIATIONS, AND I WANT TO THANK THE HARDWORKING PUBLIC SERVANTS ACROSS THE ADMINISTRATION WHO WORKED TIRELESSLY TO SECURE HER RELE RELEASE. >> FOR MARK, LET'S BRING IN AARON KETURAH SKI ALONG WITH OTHERS. AND DR. DANNY GILBERT, AT THE INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING DARTMOUTH COLLEGE. WE HAVE QUITE THE PANEL. WE DO HAVE AN ALL-STAR PANEL. LET'S JUST START WITH YOU. GRINER NOW ON HER WAY HOME FROM RUSSIA. THAT WAS PRETTY AMAZING TO SEE FROM THE VIDEO INSIDE THE AIRPLANE. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT FOOTAGE FROM RUSSIAN STATE MEDIA? CLEARLY SHE LOOKS LIKE SHE IS IN GOOD HEALTH, EXCITED TO COME BACK, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE ARE ACTUALLY SEEING FOOTAGE NOT IN THE JAIL CELL. >> AND THAT SMILE IS EVERYTHING, ISN'T IT? IT SPEAKS TO WHAT PRESIDENT BIDEN SPOKE ABOUT EARLIER THAT BRITTNEY GRINER IS IN AN UPBEAT MOOD AND IN GOOD HEALTH. SHE WILL GET CHECKED OUT AT THE ARMY MEDICAL CENTER IN SAN ANTONIO BEFORE SHE GOES HOME OR WHEREVER SHE IS GOING TO GO FOR THE NEXT LITTLE BIT, BUT SHE DOES LOOK UPBEAT AND SMILING AND IN GOOD HEALTH. WE HAVE LEARNED IN THE LAST FEW MINUTES THANKS TO UNSEALED COURT DOCUMENTS THAT THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR ALL OF THIS TO TAKE PLACE GO BACK AT LEAST NOVEMBER 29, THAT IS WHEN THE ADMINISTRATION REQUESTED THAT THE BUREAU OF PRISONS RELEASE VIKTOR BOUT FROM INCARCERATION AT THE FEDERAL PENITENTIARY IN ILLINOIS. THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN SOMETIME BETWEEN DECEMBER 2ND AND DECEMBER 16TH, SO THIS IS IN THAT WINDOW. THE PIECES HAVE BEEN IN MOTION TO SET THE STAGE FOR THIS RELEASE TODAY FOR AT LEAST A FEW DAYS NOW. >> THIS IS A MOMENT FOR THE PRESIDENT AS WELL. HE SAYS HIS ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY TO SECURE THE RELEASE. WHAT ELSE ARE THEY SAYING? >> THE FIRST OFFER FROM THE ADMINISTRATION WAS MADE PUBLIC IN THE SUMMER WHEN THEY PUT ON A SUBSTANTIAL OFFER TO THE RUSSIANS TO GET THE RELEASE OF VIKTOR BOUT. THEY DIDN'T GET INTO DETAILS OF WHAT THE OFFER WAS BUT SOURCES SAID IT WAS AN EXCHANGE FOR VIKTOR BOUT. IT BECAME CLEAR IN THE SUBSEQUENT MONTHS THAT THE RUSSIANS WERE NOT ENGAGING WITH THE ADMINISTRATION, IGNORING THAT OFFER ON THE TABLE. AND THEN RIGHT AFTER THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS, PRESIDENT BIDEN TOLD ME HE FELT BECAUSE THE ELECTIONS HAD TAKEN PLACE, THE RUSSIANS WERE GOING TO BE MORE SERIOUS ABOUT NEGOTIATIONS TO GET BRITTNEY GRINER HOME, THEY WERE GOING TO ENGAGE IN A MORE SERIOUS WAY, AND NOW HERE WE ARE A COUPLE OF WEEKS LATER. TODAY THE WHITE HOUSE SAID IN RECENT WEEKS IT BECAME CLEAR THAT THEY WERE GOING TO CONSIDER BRITTNEY GRINER'S CASE DIFFERENTLY THAN THE RUSSIANS WOULD, AND IN RECENT DAYS IT WAS CLEAR THIS WAS GOING TO BE AN OFFER FOR BRITTNEY GRINER OR NOBODY. THIS WAS NOT A CHOICE OF WHICH AMERICAN TO BRING HOME, IT WAS GRINER OR NOBODY. >> LAWMAKERS FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE CELEBRATED THE RELEASE, BUT ALSO QUESTIONED THE DECISION TO SWAP FOR A KNOWN ARMS3█3 4 F1 █ INTERNATIONAL AR VIKTOR BOUT. LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE BIGGEST CONCERNS HERE. >> AND IF HE STILL IS DEEMED A THREAT. THERE ARE LAWMAKERS WHO ARE OBVIOUSLY REJOICING BASED UPON THAT NEWS. SPEAKER PELOSI SAID THAT GRINER SUFFERED UNTHINKABLE TRAUMA, THAT SHE WAS OVERJOYED BY GREINER'S RETURN. BUT AS YOU MENTIONED, THERE ARE REPUBLICANS SPECIFICALLY. BUT BUT THOSE IN ALL PARTIES WHO ARE SAYING THAT THEY ARE DISCOURAGED BY THE FACT THAT VIKTOR BOUT WAS NOT SWAPPED FOR BOTH GRINER AND WHEELIN. KEVIN MCCARTHY TWEETED THIS, I WANT TO SHOW IT TO YOU. HE SAID THAT IT WAS UNCONSCIONABLE, WERE HIS WORDS ,THAT THE MERCHANT OF DEATH, THAT'S VICTOR BOUT, WAS RETURNED TO PUTIN. >> BUT LEAVING PAUL WHEELIN, THAT'S THE SECOND PAGE OF THAT BEHIND WE SAW AGAIN, UNCONSCIONABLE IS THE WORD AT THE END OF THAT TWEET. AS YOU SEE THERE, MIKE MCCAUL, THE REPUBLICAN, SAID THAT HE WAS RELIEVED THAT BRITTNEY GRINER WAS COMING HOME, BUT FELT THAT THIS PRISONER SWAP SERVED TO ONLY EMBOLDEN OTHER COUNTRIES TO KIDNAP AMERICANS TO WRONGFULLY PRISON AMERICANS IN THE HOPES OF SOME KIND OF A POTENTIAL PRISONER SWAP. I CAN TELL THAT I ASKED SHEILA JACKSON LEE, THE REPRESENTATIVE FOR GREINER'S HOME DISTRICT IN HOUSTON, WHAT SHE MADE OF THIS GENESIS OF THIS DEAL , MEANING THAT WHEN THE WHITE HOUSE FIRST UNVEILED THE POTENTIAL FOR THIS DEAL , THERE WAS THE IDEA THAT WE WERE SWAPPING TWO AMERICANS, PAUL WHEELIN AND GRINER, FOR ONE , VICTOR BOOT. AND THEN, OF COURSE, COMING TO TODAY, IT TURNS INTO A ONE FOR ONE SWAP. SHE BLAMED VLADIMIR PUTIN FOR THAT AND SAID THAT HE WAS NOT NEGOTIATING IN A WAY THAT WOULD HAVE GOTTEN TO AMERICANS BACK . WE THE WHITE HOUSE SAID THAT EARLIER TODAY AS WELL, THAT THEY BELIEVE THAT RUSSIA WAS NOT NEGOTIATING IN GOOD FAITH FOR BOTH GRINER AND WHEELIN, BUT ONLY FOR GRINER AND NOT WIELAND'S. >> SO THE QUESTION AS TO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT FOR PAUL WHEELIN, THAT IS AN OPEN QUESTION, GUYS. THAT THERE REALLY IS . AND IT'S PRETTY CLEAR , AS KAREN JUST REPORTED, THAT PUTIN WAS WAS HOLDING BACK , HOPING FOR A FRIENDLIER CONGRESS, SOME KIND OF PRESSURE ON ON BIDEN OUT OF THE MIDTERMS. A WEAKER BIDEN, PERHAPS. MAYBE THAT WAS PART OF THE EQUATION AS WELL. DIDN'T TURN OUT THAT WAY. SO LET'S BRING IN DR. DANNY GILBERT AND I JUST WANT TO MENTION TO OUR AUDIENCE THAT YOUR EXPERTISE YOUR FIELD OF STUDY IS YOUR RESEARCH, IT SAYS, EXPLORES THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF HOSTAGE TAKING IN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY. WHAT AN INTERESTING AREA TO STUDY. AND YOU'RE JUST THE PERSON TO HAVE HERE. SO TALK IS ABOUT THIS DEAL , WHAT YOU SEE IN IT AND WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN FOR PAUL WHEELER. >> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME. IT'S RARE THAT I GET TO BE PART OF A HAPPY NEWS STORY. SO I'M SO GLAD TO SEE BRITTNEY GRINER COMING HOME AND THIS MOMENT IS REALLY BITTERSWEET IN TERMS OF WHAT IT MEANS FOR PAUL WHEELIN. I THINK SUGGESTS THAT, FIRST OF ALL, THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION ARE OPEN, THAT THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA ARE NEGOTIATING, BUT THAT THE RUSSIANS ARE REALLY PLAYING HARDBALL, THAT THEY CONSIDER POLAND IN A DIFFERENT CATEGORY AND WHATEVER THAT MEANS, THAT IT MIGHT MAKE IT HARDER TO GET HIM HOME, THAT IT MIGHT TAKE MORE TIME AND POSSIBLY DIFFERENT OR ADDITIONAL CONCESSIONS FROM THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO BRING HIM BACK . BUT I BELIEVE THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO DOING THAT. AND THAT THEY WILL CONTINUE TO WORK TIRELESSLY BEHIND THE SCENES TO MAKE SURE THAT HE AND ALL OTHER WRONGFULLY DETAINED AMERICANS COME HOME AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. >> AND PHIL, AS YOU KNOW, YOU REPORTED THAT POLAND WAS ABLE TO GIVE AN INTERVIEW AFTER HEARING THE NEWS FROM PRISON CALLED IN ACTUALLY TO CNN AND ITS AUDIO ONLY . BUT HE MADE IT VERY CLEAR THAT HE WAS VERY HAPPY THAT BRITTANY IS GOING GOING HOME. BUT HE STILL DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY HE IS SITTING THERE IN IN PRISON STILL AND THAT HE'S GREATLY DISAPPOINTED THAT MORE HASN'T BEEN DONE TO SECURE HIS RELEASE. >> RIGHT. IN THAT IN THAT STATEMENT, GOES ON , AS YOU SEE THERE, CAROL. SHE SAYS, ESPECIALLY AS AS THE FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY ARREST IS COMING UP. HE SAYS, I WAS ARRESTED FOR A CRIME THAT I NEVER THAT IT NEVER OCCURRED. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY I AM STILL HERE. HE WENT ON TO PLEAD DIRECTLY TO PRESIDENT BIDEN, SAYING HIS BAGS ARE PACKED AND HE'S READY TO GO. BUT AS KAREN AND DANNY JUST REPORTED, IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE. FOR SOME REASON OR ANOTHER, THE RUSSIANS SEE HIM IN ANOTHER CATEGORY. WE DO KNOW THAT THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION ARE OPEN. WE SPOKE TO A SENIOR WHITE SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TODAY THAT SAID THEY EXPECT THE CHANNEL WITH MOSCOW TO REMAIN OPEN TO DISCUSS WIELAND'S RELEASE AND BREAKING THROUGH WHATEVER IMPASSE THERE IS . THEY SAY THAT IT'S IT'S A SHAM ESPIONAGE CHARGE AGAINST HIM. PRESIDENT BIDEN HIMSELF TODAY DURING SORT OF THAT VICTORY LAP , SAYING THAT BRITTNEY GRINER IS COMING HOME WITH WITH HER WIFE BEHIND HIM. ALSO THE VICE PRESIDENT . HE MADE IT A POINT TO SPEAK PAUL WIELAND'S NAME MORE THAN ONCE AND SAID, WE'VE NOT FORGOTTEN ABOUT PAUL . WE'RE WORKING ON IT. AND IT'S JUST, YOU KNOW, AS KAREN SAID, THIS WASN'T A CHOICE, BOTH OF THEM TO COME HOME. IT WAS A CHOICE, BOTH OF THEM OR NONE OF THEM. AND THE UNITED STATES DECIDED TO BRING BRITTNEY GRINER HOME. >> AT THIS POINT, WE CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT INTERVIEW, AARON

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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