Donald Trump has criticised the father of a man newly released from a Chinese jail, saying he is “very ungrateful” about the president interceding on his son’s behalf.
UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were arrested in China at the beginning of November for shoplifting sunglasses.
Last week the three players were released and allowed to fly back to the US, but have been suspended by the team.
President Trump claims the trio’s freedom was down to a conversation he had with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
This version of events was countered by Ball’s father LaVar, who told ESPN on Saturday: “Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.
“A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there.”
Trump’s response to the comment was blistering.
He took to Twitter on Sunday, saying he should have “left them in jail”. He went on to talk about the potential term the trio were facing.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Ball’s father may have criticised Trump, but all three players thanked the president at a press conference upon their return.
Trump’s response to the situation was met with ire by critics on social media.
Literally hundreds of State, DOD, and other federal employees stationed abroad have countless stories of quietly assisting Americans in trouble abroad. Not for glory or credit, but just because they were compatriots and it was right. https://t.co/UTS6470KD8— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) November 19, 2017
Jesse Jackson brokered deals to release a bunch of white people stuck in foreign countries never asked for a thank you . POTUS spend your time fixing the VA not childish fights.— Dr Victor Omo Agege (@DrOmoAgege) November 20, 2017