Griner freed from Russian penal colony in prisoner swap

The United States exchanged convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to secure WNBA star Brittney Griner’s release.
8:24 | 12/08/22

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Transcript for Griner freed from Russian penal colony in prisoner swap
SOME TYPE OF HOPE. THANKS TO CECILIA VEGA FOR THAT REPORT. I WANT TO BRING IN OUR CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, MARTHA RADDATZ NOW FOR MORE ON THIS. MARTHA, BRITTNEY GRINER WAS DETAINED BACK IN FEBRUARY AND THESE NEGOTIATIONS STARTED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. SO WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT WHAT WENT INTO THOSE MONTHS TO FINALLY HAVE THIS COME TOGETHER NOW? >> I THINK SO MANY PEOPLE WERE WORKING ON THIS DIANE SAWYER AND TRULY FULL TIME TRYING TO GET BRITTNEY GRINER RELEASED. THIS ALL CAME TOGETHER, ACCORDING TO A SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL, IN THE LAST 48 HOURS. IF YOU RECALL, PRESIDENT BIDEN RECENTLY SAID THAT AFTER THE MIDTERMS, THAT NOW THAT THIS IS OVER, MAYBE RUSSIA CAN REALLY CONCENTRATE ON THIS ONCE AGAIN. AND WE AND WE CAN GET BRITTNEY GRINER FREED. THEY, OF COURSE, WANTED PAUL WHEELIN FREED AS WELL. HE IS HE IS FACING MUCH, MUCH MORE SERIOUS CHARGES. THE CHARGES OF SPYING, CONVICTED OF SPYING IN IN RUSSIA. SO THAT HAS BEEN A DIFFICULT DEAL. BUT HIS FAMILY HAS BEEN SO GRACIOUS TODAY, SO GRACIOUS, HIS HIS TWIN BROTHER SAYING THEY ARE ELATED OVER THE RELEASE OF BRITTNEY GRINER, BUT, OF COURSE, DEVASTATED THAT PAUL WHEELIN WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THAT. THEY HAD A HEADS UP THAT SHE WAS ABOUT TO BE RELEASED AND VOWED TO KEEP FIGHTING FOR HIS RELEASE. AS WE AS WE HEARD PRESIDENT BIDEN SAY AGAIN TODAY AS WELL, THAT THE THEY WILL NOT GIVE UP EVER IN TRYING TO GET PAUL WHEELIN RELEASE. WE'RE ALSO TOLD AND THIS IS NO SURPRISE, THAT BRITTNEY GRINER IS AN EXTREMELY GOOD SPIRITS. SHE IS SMILING ALL THE TIME. THE EXCHANGE, OF COURSE, IN ABU DHABI. YOU SEE CECILIA POINTED OUT, AND THAT'S WHERE SHE WAS ON THE PHONE WITH THE WITH THE PRESIDENT AND HER WIFE, SHERYL, ON THAT TARMAC. THAT'S WHERE THAT HAPPENED RIGHT AFTER HER RELEASE, RIGHT AFTER THAT EXCHANGE WITH VICTOR BOOT. >> NOW, WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT VICTOR BOOD? HE WAS CONVICTED AS A RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER. WHAT DOES THIS RELEASE MEAN FOR RUSSIA, FOR THE U.S., FOR THE WORLD? >> WELL, HE WAS KNOWN AS THE MERCHANT OF DEATH HERE, A FLEET OF PLANES WHICH HE USED TO FLY ARMS AROUND THE WORLD, CALLED IT CAUSING CARNAGE IN PLACES LIKE AFRICA. IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. IT WAS ALL ABOUT PROVIDING ARMS TO WHOEVER HAD THE MONEY. HE APPARENTLY VIOLATED UN SANCTIONS AND ALL SORTS OF MANDATES THAT CERTAIN ARMS NOT BE SENT TO CERTAIN COUNTRIES WHERE PEOPLE WERE BEING MURDERED OR WHETHER IT WAS, THOSE KINDS OF ISSUES. HE WAS CAUGHT IN A STING OPERATION BY THE DEA, DEA. HE WAS SERVING TWENTY FIVE YEAR SENTENCE. NOW, THERE HAS BEEN SPECULATION ,SUSPICION THAT HE WAS A RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER SOMEHOW TIED TO RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE. BUT THE FEELING IS THAT NOW HE HAS BEEN IN JAIL FOR QUITE SOME TIME, THAT HIS VALUE AS AN INTELLIGENCE ASSET IS PRETTY MUCH RUN ITS COURSE. SO WITH THE BRITTNEY GRINER SITUATION, WITH SO MANY PROMINENT OFFICIALS, HER FAMILY, WNBA STARS, NBA STARS LIKE LEBRON JAMES, AND STEPH CURRY, ALL PUSHING AND SAYING, GET THIS WOMAN HOME. IT IS JUST A DISASTER TO SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH HANDLING A HASHEESH. OIL IS FACING A NINE YEAR SENTENCE. SO IT WAS IMPERATIVE TO TRY TO GET THIS RESOLVED. AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION CLEARLY VERY HAPPY TODAY, AS IS THE AND FAMILY. I WANT TO BRING IN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT MARY BRUCE FOR MORE ON THE REACTION TO THIS MARY. BECAUSE ORIGINALLY WHEN THIS WAS PUT FORWARD MONTHS AGO, THE ADMINISTRATION WAS TRYING TO GET THE RELEASE, BRITTNEY GRINER AND PAUL WHEELIN IN EXCHANGE FOR VICTOR BOOT, A WILLINS FAMILY NOW SAYS THEY KNEW PRETTY EARLY ON THAT THAT WAS NOT ACTUALLY ON THE TABLE. SO WHAT IS THE REACTION IN WASHINGTON NOW TO THIS FINAL DEAL? >> BRITTNEY GRINER FOR VICTOR. WE ARE JUST ACTUALLY LEARNING SOME MORE DETAILS ABOUT THESE NEGOTIATIONS AND HOW ALL OF THIS CAME TOGETHER. AND I JUST CAN'T STRESS ENOUGH THAT THIS REALLY WAS JUST IN THE LAST FEW DAYS, JUST IN THE LAST 48 HOURS, REALLY, THAT ALL OF THIS FINALLY CAME INTO PLACE. AS YOU MENTIONED, THE WHITE HOUSE, WE KNOW, MADE ACTUALLY A REALLY REMARKABLE STEP OF GOING PUBLIC, WHICH WOULD SAY AT THE TIME CALLED THAT SUBSTANTIAL OFFER. THAT WAS BACK IN JULY, HOPING TO SECURE THE RELEASE OF BOTH GRINER AND WHEELIN IN EXCHANGE FOR VIKTOR BOUT. THE RUSSIANS REJECTED THAT OUT OF HAND AND ACCORDING TO ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS, IT WAS REALLY JUST IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS THAT IT BECAME VERY CLEAR THAT RUSSIA WAS REALLY ONLY GOING TO BE WILLING TO DO A ONE FOR ONE SWAP, THAT THEY WERE ONLY GOING TO BE WILLING TO TRADE VICTOR BOOT FOR BRITTNEY GRINER, BECAUSE, OF COURSE, THEY VIEW WIELAND'S CASE BECAUSE IS THIS SHAM ESPIONAGE CHARGE. THEY VIEW IT VERY DIFFERENTLY. AND YOU HEARD THE PRESIDENT TODAY STRESSING PUBLICLY SAYING THAT THIS WAS REALLY NOT A CHOICE OF WHICH AMERICAN TO BRING HOME. THIS WAS NOT UP TO JOE BIDEN. THEY WANTED, OF COURSE, BOTH WHEELIN AND GRINER TO COME HOME, BUT THAT THE RUSSIANS MADE VERY CLEAR THE ONLY THING THEY WERE GOING TO BE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE HERE WAS THE RELEASE OF BRITTNEY GRINER. SO THE PRESIDENT MADE THE INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT CHOICE OF GOING FORWARD WITH THIS. AND THE ADMINISTRATION ALSO STRESSING NOW THAT THEY DID REACH OUT TO PAUL WHEELIN IN THE LAST FEW IN THE LAST TWENTY FOUR HOURS TO DISCUSS WITH HIM PERSONALLY, PROBABLY THE FAMILY EXCUSE ME, POLAND FAMILY TO DISCUSS WITH THEM PERSONALLY THIS DECISION, HOW THEY CAME TO THIS, WHY THE EFFORTS THAT THEY ARE CONTINUING TO MAKE TO RELEASE WHEELIN GOING THROUGH GREINER'S CASE. SO THEY ARE, OF COURSE, STILL WORKING ON THIS. WANT TO SEE WHEELIN COME HOME. BUT THEY SAW THE OPPORTUNITY HERE TO GET BRITTNEY GRINER RELEASED AND, OF COURSE, FELT THEY HAD TO GO FORWARD WITH THIS. AND EVEN WHALEN'S FAMILY IS SAYING THEY ARE PRAISING PRESIDENT BIDEN FOR MAKING THE DEAL THAT COULD BE MADE INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR A DEAL THAT WASN'T POSSIBLE. I WANT TO BRING IN COLONEL STEVE GENYA FOR A LITTLE BIT MORE ON THE SECURITY ASPECT OF THIS AND SORT OF THE LARGER GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS HERE. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE TIMING OF THIS, GIVEN RUSSIAN TROOPS ARE NOW FACING SEEMINGLY MORE TROUBLE IN UKRAINE? HAVING A HARDER TIME THERE? AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT VLADIMIR PUTIN'S MOTIVE, HOW CALCULATED DO YOU THINK THIS TIMING IS? >> YEAH, IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO PUTIN'S ABILITY TO INFLUENCE GLOBAL EVENTS. AND IN THIS CASE, HE WANTS SANCTIONS AND ALL OF THE GLOBAL SANCTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN IMPOSED UPON RUSSIA LIFTED OR AT LEAST GET SOME RELIEF. AND SO HE SAW THAT PRETTY GREINER'S PUBLIC PUBLICITY AND THE OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT FOR HER OVER TIME WOULD DIMINISH. I MEAN, SHE'S IN JAIL OVER TIME. HE PROBABLY MADE THE CALCULATION THAT VALUE HER VALUE TO HIM AS A NEGOTIATING TOOL. WOULD DIMINISH. SO HE PROBABLY MADE THE BEST BET THAT HE THOUGHT HE COULD MAKE AT THE TIME. IT'S SOMETHING THAT THE PRESIDENT BIDEN COULD NOT GET AROUND. HE COULD NOT BEGIN TO HAVE DISCUSSIONS WITH THE RUSSIANS OR AT LEAST BACK CHANNEL DISCUSSIONS UNTIL HE REMOVED THIS THIS IS DOMESTIC POLITICS FOR BIDEN TO BE ABLE TO REMOVE THIS IRRITANT THAT BRITTNEY GRINER WAS STILL BEING HELD. SO THE IDEA HERE IS THAT PUTIN PLAYED HIS HAND WHEN HE THOUGHT HE HAD THE BEST DEAL TO TO TO GAIN. BUT IT ALL COMES DOWN TO TO UKRAINE AND TRYING TO GET SOME SANCTIONS RELIEF OR AT LEAST BEGIN TO OPEN UP A DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW TO END THE WAR IN UKRAINE. >> AND LET ME BRING IN SECURITY AND DEFENSE ANALYST MCMORROW FOR MORE ON THAT PART OF IT. MAKE FOR VLADIMIR PUTIN. IS THIS MORE ABOUT JUST THE VISUAL WAY TO SHOW SOME POWER AND A WAY TO STEVE SAYS, MAYBE HAVE SOME LEVERAGE TO LOOSEN UP SOME SANCTIONS OR COULD VICTOR BOOD ACTUALLY PROVIDE RUSSIA WITH SOME HELP, EITHER IN UKRAINE OR OTHER AREAS OF THE WORLD? >> SO I AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, THERE IS SOME SPECULATION THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO ASSIST IN ACQUIRING WEAPONS AND MUNITIONS. I THINK HE'S, QUITE FRANKLY, SO DATED AND SO TOXIC THAT IT'S PROBABLY NOT THE CASE. >> I DO THINK PRESIDENT PUTIN IS GOING TO USE THIS TO SHOW THAT HE IS ON THE SAME DIPLOMATIC PLANE AS THE UNITED STATES, THAT HE CONSIDERS THIS VICTOR THE AND PROBABLY WILL PLAY IT UP AS SUCH. AND RUSSIA AND YES, ABSOLUTELY. LIKE STEVE SAID, HE WANTS ANY KIND OF SANCTIONS RELIEF HE CAN GET. I'M SURE IT'S IT'S CRUSHING THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY. AS IT WAS INTENDED TO DO. AND HE IS LOSING, QUITE FRANKLY, AND FAILING TO MEET ANY OF HIS STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES IN UKRAINE. AND I THINK THAT IS OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE, INCLUDING

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

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