OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former President Donald Trump has received a dire warning and a strange offer this week.
According to Newsweek, Russia’s “merchant of death” extended an offer of asylum to Trump, stating that he believes the former President’s life is at risk if he stays in the United States.
During an interview on a Russian state TV channel, Viktor Bout, an infamous international arms dealer portrayed by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film “Lord of War,” told a reporter that he had sent a telegram to Trump cautioning him about a looming danger to his life and advising him to seek refuge in Russia for his safety.
According to Bout, the threat to Trump’s life does not stem from an assassin or an unknown conspiracy. Rather, it is from the former President’s own government, as a result of the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into allegations that Trump falsified business records to conceal a hush money payment made to former adult film star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election, Newsweek noted.
“Trump was arraigned this week on 34 counts related to that charge. He has denied all wrongdoing in the case, as well as an affair that Daniels claims they had,” the report said.
Bout told the Russia-24 news channel: “The legal process which has now begun in New York won’t just end in Donald Trump being convicted and barred from the  election.
The "merchant of death" Viktor Bout says he has sent a message to Donald Trump offering him political asylum in Russia
He warns that Trump's life is in danger in the US and calls on the ex-president to lead an "uprising against the globalists" from abroad pic.twitter.com/5C7KJcWom3
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) April 7, 2023
“Most likely, he will simply be eliminated there,” he continued. “Therefore, I think it’s in the best interests of all of humanity and primarily all of the American people to invite Donald Trump here, to Russia, to give him security and protection here so that he leads this uprising against the globalists and, most importantly, does not allow the elimination of the American people.”
Bout, who was serving time for arms dealing, generated headlines in December when the Biden administration agreed to swap him for WNBA player Brittney Griner, who had been jailed in Russia earlier last year after being convicted on a drug charge.
“The one-for-one exchange agreement negotiated with Moscow in recent weeks was given final approval by President Biden within just the last week, according to sources familiar with the deal. The swap, first reported by CBS News, took place on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates,” the outlet noted further.
“A White House official said President Biden was in the Oval Office Thursday morning on the phone, speaking with Griner, and her wife Cherelle Griner and Vice President Kamala Harris were also in the room. Per standard procedure for freed U.S. prisoners, Griner was expected to quickly undergo a medical evaluation,” the outlet continued.
In a tweet from his official Twitter account, Biden wrote: “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home.”
In August, reports claimed that Russian officials had confirmed that Moscow was in talks to swap Griner and another American being held in Russia, Paul Whelan, for Bout, the notorious “Merchant of Death” arms dealer who has been imprisoned in the United States since 2010.
At the time, a former DEA agent sounded the alarm on this potential deal, calling it “dangerous” for the U.S. and the West.
Rob “Zach” Zachariasiewicz, in an op-ed for USA Today, warned against trading Bout for Griner.
“Bout…provided the fuel for conflicts across the globe. He was a critical player in the global illicit arms trade not because he could obtain weapons but because he could deliver his destructive cargo anywhere in the world through his control of a private fleet of military aircraft. And he did just that,” the former DEA agent wrote.
“A tremendous amount of resources and political capital were spent on the critical national security investigation into Bout’s actions. Lives were placed at risk, and tireless efforts were made. Now many voices are not being adequately considered in these deliberations over whether to free Bout in exchange for an American. Those voices include an entire generation of maimed and orphaned inhabitants of war-torn countries throughout the world, especially in Africa,” he added.
“In a recorded undercover meeting, he declared to persons he believed to be terrorist facilitators that the United States was his sworn enemy. He offered them, as part of an extensive arsenal of heavy weapons, hundreds of surface-to-air missiles to be used against U.S. military advisers and the Colombian military,” Zachariasiewicz noted further.
“Negotiating for Bout’s release is a feckless and shortsighted foreign policy. Such actions merely encourage our adversaries to engage in the kidnapping, illegal detention, and ransoming of American citizens throughout the world,” he added.