- Mark Wilson/Getty Images
- The three UCLA basketball players who were arrested in China and charged with shoplifting returned stateside after President Trump met with Xi Jinping to ask for help in the case.
- LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, downplayed Trump’s involvement with his son’s release while speaking with ESPN.
- On Sunday morning, Trump sent out a tweet suggesting Ball was ungrateful for his help and that he “should have left [the players] in jail!”
- At the daily press briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders clarified that Trump’s comments were “rhetorical” and that he was pleased that the players were back stateside.
The White House has clarified President’s Trump tweet from Sunday morning, in which he said of the three UCLA Bruins who had been arrested in China, “I should have left them in jail!”
At the White House daily briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders clarified that the president did not regret intervening in the case when asked about the tweet, and that he was happy to see their release.
“The president was certainly very glad and thankful to see the release of the three UCLA athletes by the Chinese government,” Sanders said.
Sanders was then asked if the president really believed he should have left the players in jail, to which Sanders said, “No, I think if that was the case he wouldn’t have taken the action that he did, and acted in order to help get those individuals released and brought back to the country.”
When asked why President Trump tweeted, “I should have left them in jail!” when he did not believe that he should have left the players in jail, Sanders said that his words were meant as “a rhetorical response to a criticism of the father.”
The father in question is none other than LaVar Ball, who downplayed Trump’s involvement in the release of his son LiAngelo after he was caught shoplifting with two of his UCLA teammates in China. Trump was in China at the time of the players’ arrest, and reportedly spoke with Chinese president XI Jingping and requested help with getting them released.
After their safe return stateside, Trump had openly wondered on Twitter whether or not the players would give him credit for bringing them back, which they did at a press conference, but LaVar Ball later went on to downplay the role Trump played in his son’s release while speaking with ESPN. It was this dismissal that drew the ire of the president and prompted his Sunday morning tweet, which we now know to be “rhetorical.”
You can watch the odd exchange below.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 20, 2017