President Donald Trump has once again weighed in on the UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China, tweeting that he should have left them in jail after a player’s father questioned how much the president actually had to do with his son’s release.
“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!” Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon.
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Ball on Friday seemed to largely disregard Trump’s role in his son’s release in an interview with ESPN. “Who?” he responded when he was asked about the topic. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
Ball’s son LiAngelo and two of his teammates, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, were arrested Nov. 8 after stealing designer sunglasses in Shanghai, according to the New York Times. Their arrest coincided with Trump’s visit to China, and the players were detained at their hotel. On Nov. 14, they left their hotel and boarded a plane back to the United States. Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly told the Times the president was instrumental in their release, bringing it up with China’s Xi Jinping.
“Our president said to Xi, ‘Do you know anything about these knuckleheads that got caught allegedly stealing?’” Kelly told the Times. “The president was saying, ‘It’s not too serious. We’d love to see this taken care of in an expeditious way,’”
The three players thanked Trump at a press conference Wednesday and apologized for their behavior. That morning, Trump had tweeted that he didn’t know if they would thank him.
Once the thanks had been issued, Trump responded, again on Twitter, by telling them to thank Xi Jinping and to have a great life.