Joe Biden travels to Fort Worth, Texas today to talk about veteran issues. The parents of Trevor Reed want to meet with Biden to talk about their son, a former Marine, who is jailed in Russia. Biden’s handlers turned down their request for just a few minutes of the president’s time while he is in town.
Trevor Reed was arrested in August 2019 in Moscow and sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020 for allegedly assaulting a police officer. There is no surveillance footage that supports the claim that a squad car swerved while Reed was being taken to the police station while intoxicated. His parents say he is being held on trumped-up charges after a drunken altercation at a party. Now his health is deteriorating. The U.S. ambassador to Russia calls the assault charges “absurd.”
Another former Marine, Paul Whelan, is also jailed in Russia and his charges are being described as trumped-up. Trevor’s family thinks that both men, and now WNBA player Brittney Griner, are being held as bargaining chips in exchange for the release of Russian spies.
Reed’s parents, Joey and Paula, want to urge Biden to increase his efforts to get their son released. They have decided to demonstrate outside the venue in hopes of getting Biden’s attention that way. It’s “an act of desperation.”
“It’s devastating,” Paula Reed, Trevor’s mother, said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News. “We thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for us to see him, and be able to talk to him for just a quick few minutes, and they couldn’t get that done. So we’re pretty disappointed.”
Joey Reed, Trevor’s father, said their plan to demonstrate outside the site of Biden’s visit Tuesday is “an act of desperation.”
“The president, like all presidents, is heavily insulated by a staff, and we just think that if he saw us standing there that he might say, ‘Pull over, is that Trevor Reed’s family?’, and talk to us,” Joey Reed said. “And if he doesn’t, at least he might just see the signs, and then we might get the meeting later. But we’re grabbing at straws. Our son is seriously ill, and we need the president to bring him home.”
Color me skeptical but I doubt that Biden knows of Trevor Reed and probably not of Whelan. Maybe Brittney’s name rings a bell since her story broke so recently.
If you were one of Biden’s handlers, wouldn’t you want to carve out just a little time with the Reeds? Biden is going to Fort Worth to try to convince an audience of how concerned he is about veterans and wants to talk about support for veterans, a part of his “Unity Agenda for the Nation” that he spoke about during his State of the Union address last week. Biden could get some good headlines if he met with the Reeds but now he is getting publicity for not giving the distraught parents of a veteran jailed in Russia the time of day. That is some bad optics, especially since voters are focused on the Russian invasion in Ukraine and the brutality of Putin.
The Americans being held in Russian jails have brought together bipartisan support of politicians and from public figures. Rep. Stevens is a Democrat from Michigan, Whelan’s home state.
Paul Whelan. Trevor Reed. And now, Brittney Griner.
I stand ready to work with the administration to bring home all Americans who are unjustly detained in Russia.https://t.co/cDM8KTXaam
— Rep. Haley Stevens (@RepHaleyStevens) March 7, 2022
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee also is pushing for action, saying in a weekend news conference that Griner “was a guest in Russia … and I will be demanding her release,” Lee said.
Texas Republican U.S. Rep. August Pfluger of San Angelo, whose district includes Granbury, has repeatedly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end Reed’s imprisonment. Pfluger tweeted in February that he remains “extremely concerned about the health and safety of my constituent, Texan Marine Veteran Trevor Reed. He has been wrongfully detained in Russia for over 900 days.”
Reed placed two recent calls to his parents, much to their surprise as they had not been in communication with him. He had COVID-19 in May of last year and now complains of difficulty breathing and pain in his chest. The U.S. embassy said he may have tuberculosis.
LR @RepMcCaul “This shameful treatment of innocent American, #TrevorReed, by the Putin regime is unacceptable. The false charges against Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan must be dropped so they can return home to the U.S. and to his family. Now.” @freetrevorreed https://t.co/M7nUnH4wT4
— House Foreign Affairs GOP (@HouseForeignGOP) February 16, 2022
A spokesman said that Rep. Marc Veasey, a Fort Worth Democrat, plans to attend events with Biden during the president’s visit, He should be asking Biden to meet with the Reeds, right?
Secretary of State Blinken said the State Department is doing all it can to free Americans being held in Russia. The recent story of Griner’s detention brought questions of what the U.S. is doing for the Americans.
“There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point,” Blinken said Sunday alongside Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Chisinau. “Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia.”
The Department of State’s consular service will visit detained Americans, help them get legal representation and ensure that prisoners are receiving appropriate medical care, but it cannot provide its own legal assistance or assert the American’s innocence to a court.
Blinken noted two other Americans detained in Russia: Former Marines Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed. Whelan was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage. He had pleaded not guilty.
Unfortunately, we know that Team Biden is not exactly covering themselves in glory in their handling of moving American citizens out of foreign countries and getting them back home after witnessing the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Say what you will about Trump’s mean tweets or whatever but he had a very good record of getting Americans being held overseas returned home. We haven’t seen that with the Biden administration.