ABC News Live: Brittney Griner freed after nearly 300 days in Russian prison

Plus, police are looking into an attack on a power substation in South Carolina while investigating similar attacks in North Carolina and across the country.
23:42 | 12/08/22

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Transcript for ABC News Live: Brittney Griner freed after nearly 300 days in Russian prison
AMERICA'S NUMBER ONE NEWS SOURCE. HI, I'M DIANE MACEDO. WE WANT TO GET RIGHT TO OUR TOP STORY. BRITTNEY GRINER HAS BEEN FREED FROM HER RUSSIAN PRISON. THE NBA STAR HAS BEEN SWAPPED FOR A CONVICTED RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER IN A PRISONER EXCHANGE. PRESIDENT BIDEN SAYS SHE WILL BE BACK HOME SOON AFTER PAINSTAKING, INTENSE NEGOTIATIONS, MOMENTS TO GO STAND TOGETHER WITH HER MAESTRO NEUROLAW. I SPOKE WITH BRITTNEY GRINER. SHE'S SAFE. SHE'S ON A PLANE. SHE'S ON HER WAY HOME AFTER MONTHS OF BEING UNJUSTLY DETAINED IN RUSSIA, HELD UNDER INTOLERABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, BRITTANY WILL SOON BE BACK IN THE ARMS OF HER LOVED ONES. AND SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE ALL ALONG. >> AND PRESIDENT BIDEN IS NOW VOWING TO CONTINUE TO WORK TO BRING PAUL WAILIN AND OTHER AMERICAN PRISONERS HOME AS WELL. I WANT TO BRING IN ABC NEWS JAY O'BRIEN ON CAPITOL HILL, ALONG WITH OUR SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, AARON KATERSKY ABC NEWS, NATIONAL SECURITY DEFENSE ANALYST MIKE MULROY, AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR CHRISTINE BRENNAN. FOR MORE ON THIS. JAY, THIS THIS AGREEMENT OR ATTEMPTED AN AGREEMENT AT LEAST, HAS BEEN IN THE WORKS FOR MONTHS NOW. SO HOW DID IT FINALLY COME TOGETHER? >> YEAH, IT'S BEEN IN THE WORKS FOR QUITE A LONG TIME. AND YOU HEARD PRESIDENT BIDEN JUST MENTION THAT HE SPOKE WITH BRITTNEY GRINER ALONGSIDE HER WIFE, CHERYL. AND IF YOU THINK ABOUT THAT, IS THE FIRST TIME PRESIDENT BIDEN OR ANYONE IN THE ADMINISTRATION, TO OUR KNOWLEDGE, HAS PHYSICALLY SPOKEN WITH BRITTNEY GRINER, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY'VE BEEN WORKING ON GETTING HER OUT OF DETENTION IN RUSSIA FOR QUITE SOME TIME. WE NOW KNOW FROM A SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL THAT LAST WEEK PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNED OFF ON THIS PRISONER SWAP, TRADING BRITTNEY GRINER FOR VICTOR BOOT, WHO IS A RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER OFTEN NICKNAMED THE MERCHANT OF DEATH. YOU'VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT HIM. PRESIDENT BIDEN SAYING THAT THIS DEAL HAS MADE THE GREINER FAMILY QUOTE WHOLE AGAIN. HOW DOES IT COME, BO? IT'S STILL AN OPEN QUESTION THAT WE'RE WORKING ON REPORTING OUT THIS MORNING. WE DO KNOW THAT A FEW MONTHS BACK, THE ADMINISTRATION MAKES THAT UNPRECEDENTED STEP OF PUBLICLY SAYING THIS IS THE DEAL WE HAVE OFFERED RUSSIA. BUT WITH BRITTNEY GRINER AND A FORMER U.S. MARINE WHO IS IN PRISON IN RUSSIA, PAUL WHEELIN FOR VICTOR BOUT, THEN, OF COURSE, NEGOTIATION AT ONE POINT TO STALLED, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TRIES TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY GET IN FRONT OF RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV ABOUT THIS. WE KNOW THAT BLINKEN AND LAVROV HAVE AT LEAST ONE IN-PERSON CONVERSATION ON THIS TOPIC. AND THEN, OF COURSE, THE NEWS COMES OUT TODAY. PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNING OFF ON THE DEAL LAST WEEK. BUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THOSE INTERVENING MOMENTS IS UNCLEAR . WE DO KNOW FROM PAUL WIELAND'S FAMILY, THEY PUT OUT A STATEMENT SAYING THAT THEY ARE THANKFUL THAT BRITTNEY GRINER IS COMING BACK AND THAT A DEAL TO BRING BOTH GRINER AND WHEELIN HOME, AS THEY PUT IT, WAS JUST NOT IN THE CARDS. >> DIANE AND CHRISTINE, I KNOW THAT YOU'VE BEEN IN TOUCH WITH THE GRINER FAMILY THROUGHOUT THIS WHOLE ORDEAL. IN THE PAST. EVERY TIME WE'VE SEEN SHARYL GRINER, IT'S BEEN, YOU KNOW, A SAD, A SOMBER OCCASION. HER BEGGING ANYONE WHO CAN HELP TO GET HER WIFE HOME. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SEE HER TODAY? BEAMING, SAYING TODAY, MY FAMILY IS WHOLE? >> ABSOLUTELY. UTTER JOY FOR HER AND HER FAMILY. OF COURSE, AS WE CAN IMAGINE. AND YES, THAT'S A DIFFERENT SET OF EVENTS. THAN FROM THE PREVIOUS ALMOST 10 MONTHS. HARD TO BELIEVE, 10 MONTHS FROM MID-FEBRUARY TILL NOW. BUT GREAT JOY AND I'M SURE FOR HER SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT. SHE DID THE RIGHT THING. YOU KNOW, THERE WERE THERE WERE QUESTIONS OF HOW TO HANDLE THIS. AND THIS IS CERTAINLY SOMETHING FAR ABOVE THE LEVEL OF MOST ATHLETES AND MOST FAMILIES OF ATHLETES AND EVEN EVEN LEAGUES. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS? WE HAD NEVER SEEN ANYTHING QUITE LIKE THIS IN SPORTS. AND YOU I HAVE A TOUGH TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST, AMERICAN HERO, RED, WHITE AND BLUE WNBA ,EIGHT TIME ALL-STAR WNBA CHAMPION, NCAA CHAMPION TO HAVE HER BEING HELD BY THIS WAS UNUSUAL. THIS WAS NEW AND THERE WAS REALLY NO PLAYBOOK FOR IT. AND YET THEY DID EVERYTHING RIGHT. AS IT TURNS OUT, WHEN YOU LOOK BACK ON IT NOW, DIANE, THEY DID EVERYTHING RIGHT. THEY WERE QUIET FOR A WHILE. HOPING THAT QUIET, KEEPING IT BELOW THE SURFACE MIGHT RESULT IN A QUICK RELEASE. THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. SO CHERYL GRINER, WNBA PLAYERS STARTED TO TALK. THEY STARTED TO GO ON THEIR TWITTER FEEDS AND GO AND CHERYL STARTED DOING INTERVIEWS AND IT MADE BRITTNEY GRINER REAL TO SO MANY PEOPLE. MANY PEOPLE WHO DON'T FOLLOW SPORTS DON'T FOLLOW WOMEN'S SPORTS, HARDLY KNEW HER. NOW, OF COURSE, SHE'S A HOUSEHOLD NAME. SO THIS THIS I DON'T WANT TO SAY CAMPAIGN BECAUSE CHEAPENS IT. THIS IS A HUMAN BEING. THIS IS THEIR FAMILY MEMBER. THIS IS THEIR FRIEND FROM THE WNBA, THEIR COLLEAGUE, THEIR THEIR FELLOW PLAYER. WHATEVER WORD YOU WOULD USE THIS EFFORT OVER TIME, IT WORKED BRILLIANTLY BECAUSE THEY MADE BRITTNEY GRINER SO INDISPENSIBLE, CORRECTLY SO IN THIS IN A SENSE OF HOW IMPORTANT SHE IS, OBVIOUSLY, TO ALL OF THEM AND TO THE NATION THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO HELP GET TO THIS POINT. TODAY. AND SO WHAT A SUCCESS, EVEN AS, OF COURSE, WE THINK THAT WE WANT FAMILY AND HOW DIFFICULT THIS DAY MUST BE FOR THEM. AND I WANT TO GO TO OUR SENIOR SECURITY EXCUSE ME, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AARON KATERSKY. NOW FOR MORE ON THE OTHER PART OF THIS DEAL. BRITTNEY GRINER IS NOW ON HER WAY HOME, AARON. SO IS RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER VIKTOR BOUT HEADED BACK TO RUSSIA NOW? WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HIM AND THAT PART? >> THIS EXCHANGE, THAT PRISONER SWAP TOOK PLACE IN ABU DHABI, WE'RE TOLD, AND BOTH OF THEM ARE NOW ON THEIR WAY TO THEIR RESPECTIVE HOME COUNTRIES. VICTOR. WAS KNOWN AS THE MERCHANT OF DEATH BECAUSE HIS ARMS, HIS WEAPONS FUELED CONFLICTS AROUND THE WORLD, INCLUDING MAINLY IN AFRICA. AND HE WAS A FORMER SOVIET MILITARY OFFICER. AND ONCE THE SOVIET UNION BROKE UP, HE WAS ABLE TO ACQUIRE ALL SORTS OF OLD WEAPONS AND AIRPLANES THAT HE THEN SHUTTLED AROUND THE GLOBE TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER AND HE WAS FINALLY CAUGHT IN THAILAND IN 2008 IN A DEA STING OPERATION. >> THE AMERICANS GOT HIM AND THEY POSED AS A GUERRILLA WARRIORS FROM COLOMBIA, FROM THE FARC AND TRIED TO WORK OUT SOME KIND OF A WEAPONS EXCHANGE. AND WHEN HE WAS FINALLY CAPTURED, BOOT WAS SAID TO HAVE UTTERED, I GUESS, THE GAME IS UP. THIS WAS A HIGH VALUE TARGET FOR THE UNITED STATES THAT FINALLY WAS WAS TIRED OF HIM FUELING ALL OF THESE CONFLICTS. IN AFRICA AND ELSEWHERE. AND HE WAS CONVICTED IN NEW YORK AT TRIAL OF CONSPIRACY. >> AND HE HAD BEEN SERVING A TWENTY FIVE YEAR PRISON SENTENCE. >> IS THERE ANY CONCERN, PARTICULARLY SINCE THIS DID END UP BEING A ONE FOR ONE DEAL AND IT WASN'T BOTH PARTNERS, BRITTNEY GRINER AND PAUL WHALEN FOR VICTOR BOOT, IS THERE ANY CONCERN THAT THIS COULD ENCOURAGE RUSSIA TO USE THIS TACTIC AGAIN AND TRY AGAIN TO TAKE AMERICAN PRISONERS? >> ABSOLUTELY, DIANA. I THINK THAT'S WHY PRESIDENT BIDEN IS ISSUING SUCH A DIRE WARNING FOR TRAVEL TO RUSSIA. THEY THIS IS HOW THEY OPERATE. THEY WANT TO GET THEIR PEOPLE BACK SO THEY WILL TAKE ANYBODY THAT THEY DEEM HIGH PROFILE. SO THE MORE HIGH PROFILE YOU ARE LIKE AND LIKE AN OLYMPIC ATHLETE OR A U.S. MARINE, THE MORE LIKELY RUSSIA WILL USE YOU TO GET THEIR THEIR CRIMINALS OUT OF OUT OF JAIL. AND THEY HAVE SEVERAL THAT ARE INCARCERATED AROUND THE WORLD. THAT THEY MIGHT WANT TO TRY TO TRY TO LEVERAGE TO GET THEM OUT AS WELL. >> AND WE DO OCCASIONALLY HEAR WARNINGS FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT OR ADVISORIES UP ON THE STATE DEPARTMENT WEBSITE ALL THE TIME OF COUNTRIES AND RATINGS OF WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDS TRAVELING THERE OR NOT. BUT TO HEAR THAT WARNING STRAIGHT FROM THE PRESIDENT'S MOUTH, IT'S UNUSUAL. >> YEAH, EXACTLY RIGHT. IN UNDERSCORES HOW THE ADMINISTRATION FEELS OVERALL ABOUT AMERICANS OVERSEAS, PARTICULARLY IN ADVERSARIAL GOVERNMENTS LIKE RUSSIA. MCMULLEN KNOWS THIS WELL, BUT EARLY ON IN THE SUMMER, WHEN BRITTNEY GRINER WAS IN RUSSIAN COURT AND SHE WAS CONVICTED AND THEN SHE APPEALED AND THE REPEAL OF THE APPEAL WAS REJECTED, I WAS SPEAKING WITH SOURCES WHO DEAL WITH THESE U.S. HELD ABROAD SITUATIONS A LOT. AND ONE OF THEM TOLD ME IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER WHAT HAPPENS IN COURT WAS HIS POSITION BECAUSE IT REALLY ALL DEPENDS UPON WHAT VLADIMIR PUTIN WANTS TO DO, THAT THE MINUTE BRITTNEY GRINER WAS ARRESTED, RUSSIA HAD THIS POSITION IN THEIR MINDS THAT THEY WERE GOING TO USE HER AND OTHER HIGH PROFILE AMERICANS WHO ARE ARRESTED IN SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES AS A BARGAINING CHIP. SO THE PRESIDENT UNDERSCORED THAT WARNING TODAY THAT IF YOU WERE AN AMERICAN AND YOU TRAVEL TO A COUNTRY SPECIFICALLY LIKE RUSSIA AND YOU ARE PARTICULARLY HIGH PROFILE, BUT EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT, YOU CAN BE USED AS A BARGAINING CHIP WITH YOUR HOME COUNTRY. AND IN MANY CASES, THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM THERE IN THAT COUNTRY IS NOT DESIGNED TO PROTECT YOU DIANE. >> AND AARON, PRESIDENT BIDEN NOW SAYS HE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK TO BRING PAUL WAILIN HOME AS WELL, WHO IS IN CUSTODY IN RUSSIA ACCUSED OF SPYING CHARGES THAT THE U.S. SAYS ARE BOGUS. WE ALSO HEARD CHERYL GRINER SAY TODAY THAT SHE AND BRITTANY WILL CONTINUE TO WORK TO DO THE SAME. SO WHAT'S THE LATEST ON THAT EFFORT? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN NOW FOR PAUL WHALEN AND ANYBODY ELSE DETAINED OVERSEAS? >> PRESIDENT BIDEN SAID THAT THE ADMINISTRATION SPOKE TO THE WHEELIN FAMILY BEFORE ANNOUNCING THE RELEASE OF BRITTNEY GRINER. THEY WANTED TO GIVE THEM A HEADS UP TO PREPARE AND A FAMILY STATEMENT. THE WELAND SAID THEY WERE ABLE TO WRAP THEIR HEAD EMOTIONALLY AROUND THE IDEA THAT BRITTNEY GRINER, WHO THEY'RE THRILLED FOR, WAS COMING HOME AND PAUL WIELAND WAS NOT. WE HEARD FROM SECRETARY OF STATE BLINKEN, WHO SAID IN A STATEMENT THAT THE U.S. WHOLE HEARTEDLY WISHED THAT WHEELIN WAS GOING TO BE HOME ON THE SAME PLANE AS BRITTNEY GRINER. BUT HE SAID THE RUSSIANS WERE UNWILLING TO END WHAT HE CALLED AN UNJUST DETENTION. >> SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE HERE, THE BACKDROP THAT THIS IS HAPPENING AT A TIME IN RUSSIAN FORCES ARE FACING TROUBLE IN UKRAINE, IS THAT COINCIDENCE? OR WAS THIS A SPECIFIC MOVE BY VLADIMIR PUTIN IN TERMS OF THE TIMING? THERE IS A LOT OF PRESSURE ON PRESIDENT PUTIN RIGHT NOW. HE IS IS LOSING HIS HIS WAR IN UKRAINE. HE'S NOT MEETING ANY OF THE STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES. AND THE UKRAINIANS ARE TAKING BACK TERRITORY AND EVEN ATTACKING CERTAIN ASSETS IN RUSSIA, AS WE SAW THIS WEEK ALREADY. SO THIS THAT MAY HAVE SOME PRESSURE ON HIM, BUT ESSENTIALLY HE WANTED TO TO GET VICTOR BOOT BACK. AND NOW HE'S PROBABLY GOING TO GO ON TO OTHER INDIVIDUALS LIKE KAZAKOFF, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT'S BEING HELD IN GERMANY THAT HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE RETURN TO RUSSIA. HE IS UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE TO GET SUCCESSES. THIS IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN UKRAINE. HOWEVER, HE IS STILL LOSING THAT EFFORT. >> SO WHAT'S HIS MOTIVE HERE? WHY DO THIS NOW? SO I THINK HE WANTED SOME AT LEAST TO SHOW THAT HE'S ON THE SAME STAGE OF THE UNITED STATES WHEN IT COMES TO DIPLOMACY. AND HE HAS SOME LEVERAGE OVER THE UNITED STATES THAT THIS OBVIOUSLY SHOWS THAT AND HE REALLY DID WANT TO GET TO BEIRUT BACK. I DON'T KNOW IF THERE'S SOME REASON FOR THAT. I DON'T REALLY BELIEVE, AS SOME HAVE SPECULATED, THAT HE COULD ASSIST IN GETTING RUSSIA MORE ARMS AND AMMUNITIONS. I THINK IS PROBABLY WAY DATED ON THAT. AND HE WOULD BE TOXIC FOR ANYBODY TO DEAL WITH. OR PERHAPS THAT IS AT LEAST A PART OF THE REASON. BUT THIS OBVIOUSLY SHOWS THAT THE RUSSIA CAN IT ON THE SAME PLANE AS THE UNITED STATES WHEN IT COMES TO NEGOTIATION. AGAIN, I WOULD WARN ANYBODY GOING TO RUSSIA THAT YOU COULD BE NEXT AND THEY AND IT'S ALL ALL A SHAM TRIAL. IT'S BEEN PREDETERMINED. BRITTANY GREINER'S TRIAL WAS PREDETERMINED BEFORE IT EVEN STARTED. SO THIS IS A BIG CONCERN AND HOPEFULLY PEOPLE WILL HEED THAT WARNING. >> NOW, CHRISTINE, BRITTNEY GRINER WAS IN RUSSIA WORKING. SHE PLAYED BASKETBALL IN RUSSIA IN ADDITION TO PLAYING IN THE U.S., AS MANY ATHLETES DO TO HELP SUPPLEMENT THEIR INCOME. SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THAT INTERNATIONAL WORLD OF ATHLETICS? AND THIS COMMON WAY OF WORKING WHERE MANY ATHLETES FROM THE U.S. WORK OVERSEAS? >> NOW YOU HAVE THE WOMEN'S PLAYERS BECAUSE THEY DON'T MAKE ENOUGH IN THE WNBA, THEY DON'T ANYWHERE NEAR WHAT THE MEN MAKE LITERALLY MOVE THE DECIMAL POINT LIKE THREE OR FOUR TIMES PLACES OVER. SO THAT'S WHY THEY GO AND PLAY OVERSEAS SOMEPLACE IN SPAIN, ASIA, TURKEY, RUSSIA. SO MY SENSE WOULD BE, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE OF THE WARNING GIVEN BY THE PRESIDENT TODAY, THAT ANY PLAYERS, WNBA PLAYERS OR ANY FROM AROUND THE WORLD, WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYERS, OR IN RUSSIA, MIGHT WANT TO GET OUT. ONE ONLY CAN IMAGINE WHAT WHAT COULD BE NEXT AND HOW DIFFICULT THAT COULD BE. FOR WHOMEVER THAT THAT MIGHT BE. SO BUT I THINK THE REST OF THE WORLD, YOU KNOW, THESE PLAYERS ARE PLAYING. THEY'RE GOING TO GO OBVIOUSLY ATHLETES TRAIN AND MOVE AROUND THE WORLD IN COMPETITIONS. SO I THINK THE ISSUE IS RUSSIA AND I THINK THE ISSUE IS PUTIN. AND SO BUT IT IS IT IS A IT IS A PROBLEM. AND THERE ARE OTHER NBA PLAYERS WHO PLAY IN RUSSIA. AND I DO THINK IT IS HIGHLIGHTED, JUST AS THE WORLD CUP DID LAST WEEK, WHEN U.S. NATIONAL TEAM, OF COURSE, ARE THE ONES WHO GAVE UP PRIZE MONEY SO THAT THE U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM, THE WILDLY SUCCESSFUL U.S., ONE SPECIALTY ,COULD HAVE EQUAL PAY, AGAIN, HIGHLIGHTING THE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN MEN'S AND WOMEN'S SPORTS AT THE PROFESSIONAL LEVEL. AND SO THAT IT SEEMS LIKE A FOOTNOTE RIGHT NOW, BUT IT CERTAINLY HAS GOTTEN A LOT OF ATTENTION, WILL CONTINUE TO GET A LOT OF ATTENTION IN THE DAYS THAT GO FORWARD. >> ALL RIGHT. BUT OF COURSE, THE BIG HEADLINE TODAY IS BRITTNEY GRINER IS ON HER WAY HOME, FREED AND A PRISONER SWAP. SHE IS HEADED BACK TO THE UNITED STATES WITH THE PRESIDENT PROMISING TO CONTINUE TO WORK TO ALSO BRING HOME PRISONER PAUL WHALEN, DETAINED IN RUSSIA AND OTHER AMERICANS DETAINED OVERSEAS. JAMES HILL CHRFREE ON ALL PLATF. >> ABC NEWS AMY ROBACH IS NUMBER ONE NEWS SOURCE. WELCOME BACK. WE HAVE BREAKING NEWS THIS MORNING. PRESIDENT BIDEN HAS JUST ANNOUNCED BRITTNEY GRINER HAS BEEN FREED FROM THE RUSSIAN PENAL COLONY. THE NBA STAR IS NOW ON HER WAY HOME TO THE UNITED STATES, FREED IN A PRISONER SWAP IN EXCHANGE FOR RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER VIKTOR BOUT. WE HEARD FROM BRITTNEY GRINER, HIS WIFE, SAYING THAT TODAY HER FAMILY IS WHOLE AND EXPRESSING HER GRATITUDE TO ALL OF THE VARIOUS PLAYERS INVOLVED IN THIS DEAL. I WANT TO BRING IN OUR JOE BRYANT ON CAPITOL HILL FOR MORE ON THAT PART OF THE STORY. J. THIS HAS BEEN IN THE WORKS FOR MONTHS. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN NOW FOR PRESIDENT BIDEN? TO BE ABLE TO TELL THE COUNTRY THAT BRITTNEY GRINER IS ON HER WAY HOME? >> WHAT WE'RE JUST STARTING TO PIECE TOGETHER HOW ALL THIS CAME TOGETHER, DIANE. SO WE'VE JUST LEARNED FROM A SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL THAT PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNED OFF ON THIS PRISONER SWAP LAST WEEK. >> BRITTNEY GRINER, AS YOU KNOW, WAS TRADED FOR RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER VIKTOR BOUT, OFTEN GIVEN THAT NICKNAME, THE MERCHANT OF DEATH. AND WE ALSO HEARD FROM PAUL WIELAND'S FAMILY. THAT'S HELPING TO SKETCH IN SOME OF THE DETAILS HERE, BECAUSE EARLIER IN THE YEAR, AS YOU KNOW, THE ADMINISTRATION CAME OUT AND SAID, WE ARE WILLING TO TRADE BRITTNEY GRINER AND PAUL WIELAND, WHO'S A FORMER U.S. MARINE WHO'S ALSO BEHIND BARS IN RUSSIA. FOR VIKTOR BOUT, THAT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY STEP. OFTENTIMES, THESE NEGOTIATIONS DON'T PLAY OUT IN PUBLIC LIKE THAT. THEN FROM THAT MOMENT TILL NOW, IT WAS UNCLEAR AS TO HOW PAUL WHALEN WAS NOT ADDED INTO THE CALCULUS HERE. >> BUT WE'RE HEARING FROM PAUL WIELAND'S TWIN BROTHER, DAVID, AND HE WRITES IN A STATEMENT, THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MADE THE RIGHT DECISION TO BRING GRINER HOME AND TO MAKE THE DEAL THAT WAS POSSIBLE RATHER THAN WAITING FOR THE ONE THAT WASN'T GOING TO HAPPEN, REFERRING TO PAUL. SO THE APPEARANCE, WHAT HE WHAT DAVID WHALEN IS SAYING IS THAT THERE WAS NO DEAL TO INCLUDE BRITTNEY GRINER AND PAUL WIELAND AS A PACKAGE AND INSTEAD TO JUST HAVE A ONE FOR ONE SWAP WITH GRINER BEING TRADED FOR PRESIDENT BIDEN SAYING EARLIER TODAY THEY'VE MADE ONE FAMILY WHOLE AGAIN. SO OBVIOUSLY A BIG MOMENT OF REJOICE, BOTH FOR THE ADMINISTRATION, BUT CERTAINLY FOR THE GRINER FAMILY. >> DIANE. AND GIVEN WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT VICTOR BOOT, WHAT'S THE BIG PICTURE HERE BETWEEN THIS EXCHANGE, A POLITICAL PRISONER FOR A CRIMINAL ONE? >> EXACTLY. DIANE, VICTOR, WHO WAS IN JAIL FOR A REASON AND HE WAS IN JAIL FOR 25 YEARS BECAUSE OF WHAT HE DID. HE ESSENTIALLY CORNERED THE MARKET, THE ARMS MARKET, BY SELLING TO THOSE THAT NOBODY ELSE WOULD SELL TO. SO HE WAS A CRIMINAL. EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD BRITTNEY GRINER IN MY OPINION, WAS A POLITICAL PRISONER AND ESSENTIALLY GRABBED SO THEY WOULD HAVE THE PRESSURE TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO LEVERAGE TO GET SOMETHING LIKE VICTOR OQUENDO. AND THAT'S WHAT I THINK HAPPENED HERE. I BELIEVE THAT WILL NOW BE LOOKING FOR OTHERS THAT WE MAY BE ABLE TO USE TO GET PAUL WIELAND OUT AS WELL. BUT IT'S CERTAINLY A GREAT DAY FOR THE EXCUSE ME, TO THE REENA ROY FAMILY AND TO THE UNITED STATES TO GET GET OUR OLYMPIAN HOME AND SUPPORTERS OF THIS DEAL ARE SAYING, YOU KNOW, HE HAS HE WAS AN ARMS DEALER, BUT HE'S BEEN IN CUSTODY FOR SO LONG. HIS INTELLIGENCE, IT'S OLD. HE'S REALLY NOT AN ASSET TO RUSSIA OR A DANGER TO THE US ANYMORE. MIKE, WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THAT? I BELIEVE THAT'S TRUE. >> I MEAN, WE WOULD HAVE EXPLOITED ANY INTELLIGENCE VALUE WE HAD MANY YEARS AGO. SO HE'S BEEN IN PRISON FOR 10 YEARS. I DON'T BELIEVE HE HAS ANY INTELLIGENCE VALUE WHATSOEVER. I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE SEEN HIM SERVE HIS WHOLE SENTENCE. BUT I THINK THE ADMINISTRATION DID THE RIGHT THING BY DOING THIS SWAP TO GET BRITTNEY GRINER OUT FOR SURE. BUT NOW WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON PAUL WHEELIN IN DETERMINING HOW WE CAN GET HIM OUT. HE IS ALSO A POLITICAL PRISONER. THE CHARGES FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN PUBLICLY ARE JUST RIDICULOUS. SPIES DO NOT WALK AROUND RUSSIA WITH A WITH A THUMB DRIVE, WITH SPY NAMES. IT'S JUST NOT THE CASE. IT'S JUST TOTALLY TRUMPED UP CHARGES. WE NEED TO ENSURE HE GETS OUT, ESPECIALLY WITH THE REPORTED MEDICAL ISSUES THAT HE MAY HAVE. >> AND PRESIDENT BIDEN IS VOWING TO CONTINUE TO WORK TO BRING PAUL WHALEN AND OTHER AMERICAN PRISONERS HOME. BUT IT'S A GREAT DAY TODAY FOR THE GRINER FAMILY. WE HEARD FROM BRITTNEY GRINER, HIS WIFE, CHERYL GREINER, SAYING OF CHERYL GRINER, RATHER, SAYING THAT TODAY MY FAMILY IS OVER. OF COURSE, GOING TO KEEP FOLLOWING THAT DEVELOPING STORY FOR YOU. BUT OUR THANKS TO JAY AND TO MICK MULROY FOR STAYING ON TOP OF THAT FOR I WANT TO TURN NOW TO A SHOOTING NEAR A DUKE ENERGY FACILITY IN SOUTH CAROLINA. IT COMES JUST DAYS AFTER ATTACK ON TWO DUKE ENERGY SUBSTATION IN NORTH CAROLINA. INVESTIGATORS HAVE NOW FILED FOR FEDERAL SEARCH WARRANTS IN THE NORTH CAROLINA SHOOTING AND NOW POWER STATIONS IN OTHER STATES ARE REPORTING RECENT ATTACKS. ABC NEWS MONA KOSAR ABDI IS IN CARTHAGE, NORTH CAROLINA, WITH THE LATEST. >> AUTHORITIES IN SOUTH CAROLINA CONFIRMING THEY'RE INVESTIGATING NEW GUNFIRE NEAR AN ENERGY FACILITY. LAW ENFORCEMENT SOURCES CONFIRMING TO ABC NEWS A PERSON OPENED FIRE NEAR DUKE ENERGY HYDROPOWER PLANT. AUTHORITIES SAYING THE INDIVIDUAL PULLED UP IN A TRUCK AND FIRED WHAT APPEARED TO BE A LONG GUN BEFORE SPEEDING AWAY. NO ONE WAS INJURED AND THERE'S NO DAMAGE TO THE STATION AT THIS TIME. IT COMES AS AUTHORITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA RAMP UP THEIR INVESTIGATION INTO THE ATTACK ON TWO DUKE ENERGY SUBSTATION'S LAST SATURDAY, WHICH LEFT ENTIRE TOWNS IN MOORE COUNTY WITHOUT POWER. >> YOU THINK NOTHING OF WHEN YOU TURN ON A LIGHT SWITCH, BUT WHENEVER YOU HAVEN'T HAD POWER FOR A FEW DAYS AND TURN ON A LIGHT SWITCH, I MEAN, IT'S JUST EVERYTHING. AUTHORITIES NOW SEEKING FEDERAL SEARCH WARRANTS IN THAT CASE AND ISSUING A 75000 DOLLAR REWARD FOR INFORMATION. I THINK WE'RE JUST DAYS AND MOMENTS AND HOURS AWAY FROM CATCHING THE CULPRIT THAT DID THIS TRAGEDY. >> MORE POWER COMPANIES REPORTING PHYSICAL ATTACKS ON ELECTRIC GRIDS TO THE FBI, MULTIPLE POWER SUBSTATIONS REPORTEDLY ATTACKED IN OREGON AND WASHINGTON LAST MONTH. THE POWER COMPANIES ARE NOT SAYING HOW THE ATTACKS WERE CARRIED OUT. BUT WANT BRIEFLY CUT ELECTRICITY TO CUSTOMERS OUTSIDE PORTLAND. ACCORDING TO OUR STATION KATU. >> AND WE HAVE CONFIRMED THIS WAS MALICIOUS INTENT. THIS WAS NO ACCIDENT. AND WE'RE ALSO LEARNING THROUGH A SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT SOURCE THAT A NUMBER OF UTILITY COMPANIES HAVE REACHED OUT TO FEDERAL AUTHORITIES IN RECENT DAYS ABOUT RECENT OR PAST INSTANCES OF SABOTAGE. AND ALL ARE BEING REVIEWED DIANE. >> ALL RIGHT, MONA KOSAR ABDI THANK YOU. AND THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MOORE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS IN NORTH CAROLINA JOINS ME NOW FOR MORE ON THIS WAVE OF ATTACKS. CHAIRMAN. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE INVESTIGATION IN NORTH CAROLINA RIGHT NOW AND THE SEARCH APPLICATIONS? >> I CAN TELL YOU THAT OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT IS WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK TO FIGURE THIS OUT. THEY'VE ENGAGED BOTH STATE AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS ALL OR COMBINING THE RESOURCES TO TRY TO BRING THIS PERPETRATOR TO JUSTICE. WHEN WE GET A HOLD OF AN I HOPE JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED AND IT WILL BE AN EXAMPLE THAT NO ONE ELSE SHOULD BE SHOOTING AT POWER GRIDS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. >> NOW, I KNOW THAT COUNTY OFFICIALS HAD SAID THAT EVERYONE IN MOORE COUNTY SHOULD HAVE THEIR POWER RESTORED BY MIDNIGHT LAST NIGHT. IS THAT THE CASE? DOES EVERYONE HAVE THEIR POWER BACK? >> YES. I JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE WITH DUKE ENERGY. THEY LET ME KNOW THAT AS OF 6:00, P.M. LAST NIGHT, ALL SUBSTATIONS WERE ENERGIZED AND EVERY CUSTOMER AND MOORE COUNTY SHOULD HAVE THEIR POWER BACK. >> AND CHAIRMAN, TODAY WE'RE REPORTING THIS NEW SHOOTING NEAR A SOUTH CAROLINA DUKE ENERGY FACILITY. WE'RE ALSO HEARING REPORTS OF RECENT ATTACKS AT OTHER POWER STATIONS IN OTHER STATES. >> WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT? WELL, THAT WAS ONE OF OUR FEARS THAT THEY SEE HOW SUCCESSFUL THIS WAS. YOU DON'T HAVE COPYCATS ACROSS OUR COUNTRY. YOU GOT UNFORTUNATELY, WE NEED TO DO A LOT MORE FOR MENTAL ILLNESS IN AMERICA. >> YOU KNOW, WE GOT AWAY FROM HAPPENED PLACES TO GIVE THESE PEOPLE HELP AND I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE ITEMS THAT SHOULD BE ADDRESSED FURTHER FROM OUR OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ON DOWN. WE NEED TO FIND WAYS TO HELP PEOPLE THAT ARE HAVING SOME MENTAL ISSUES AND GET THEM SOME HELP. YOU KNOW, THERE'S GOOD AND EVIL. AND THIS WAS OBVIOUSLY EVIL. >> CHAIRMAN FASANO, I KNOW IT'S A VERY BUSY TIME FOR YOU. WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME TODAY AND GLAD TO HEAR THAT THE POWER IS BACK ON IN MOORE COUNTY. >> SIR, THANK YOU. YES. AND THANKS TO DUKE ENERGY AND RANDOLPH ELECTRIC AND NO, NO, NO ACCIDENTS AND EVERYBODY IS GOOD. SO THANK YOU FOR COVERING AND GIVING"ABC NEWS LIVE" PRIZEA LINSEY DAVIS SCREENING WEEKNIGHTS. AND REACTION IS POURING IN AFTER PRESIDENT BIDEN ANNOUNCED THE RELEASE OF BRITTNEY GRINER. SHE'S ON HER WAY BACK TO THE US AFTER A PRISONER SWAP. WE'RE NOW HEARING FROM NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON SAYING HE IS RELIEVED THAT BRITTNEY GRINER HAS BEEN RELEASED AND IS ON HER WAY HOME TO BE REUNITED WITH HER FAMILY. I WANT TO BRING IN OUR SENIOR DEFENSE ANALYST, SECURITY AND DEFENSE ANALYST MIKE MULROY. FOR MORE ON THIS. RICHARDSON IS ONE OF MANY PEOPLE WHO AT SOME POINT OR ANOTHER, WAS TRYING TO HELP BROKER THIS DEAL. HOW DO WE KNOW SO FAR ABOUT HOW THIS CAME TOGETHER? SO OBVIOUSLY MANY PEOPLE WERE INVOLVED IN THIS DIANE SAWYER SPECIFIC PEOPLE DESIGNATED TO DO SO BY THE UNITED STATES. BUT THERE'S ALSO THE U.S. EMBASSY OUT THERE, THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY. THERE IS A GIANT GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT WORK DILIGENTLY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN. AND WE'LL CONTINUE TO DO SO FOR EVERY AMERICAN THAT'S UNLAWFULLY DETAINED OVERSEAS. >> ALL RIGHT, NICK. ALL RIGHT. WE APPRECIATE YOUR ANALYSIS, AS ALWAYS. AND THANKS TO YOU AT HOME FOR WATCHING. I'M DIANE MACEDO DO STAY WITH US AS ABC NEWS CONTINUES WITH MORE NEWS CONTEXT AND ANALYSIS RIGHT AFTER THIS. >>

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

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