Trump Says he Should Have Left UCLA Players in Jail in China

“How can someone in such a big office be so small?” U.S. Representative Adam Schiff wrote in response on Twitter.

UCLA basketball players Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill speak at a press conference at UCLA. / REUTERS

(Reuters) — President Donald Trump on Sunday upbraided the father of one of the three UCLA basketball players who had been detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting, tweeting he “should have left them in jail!”

Trump’s comments on Twitter came the day after LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo Ball, downplayed Trump’s involvement in the three athletes’ 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!” the president tweeted.

Hours after the first tweet, Trump posted again on Twitter, saying Chinese officials told the students why they had been released.

“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!” Trump wrote in the second tweet.

The three players from the University of California, Los Angeles, apologized last week and thanked Trump for helping secure their release by raising the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit.

All three players have been suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball team.

But LaVar Ball told the ESPN TV network on Saturday: “Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” referring to Trump.

The White House declined to comment on Sunday on the president’s tweet. Attempts to reach LaVar Ball for comment were unsuccessful. Ball has stirred controversy with comments promoting the careers of his three basketball-playing sons, including Los Angeles Lakers rookie and former UCLA star Lonzo Ball.

The Republican president, while finishing up a 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia, said he had sought the help of the Chinese president in the case.

“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump told reporters in Manila last week, while describing Xi’s response as “terrific.”

The three players — Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill — admitted to stealing items from three stores during a team trip to China. Before they thanked Trump on Wednesday for intervening with Xi, Trump had wondered whether they would express gratitude to him.

“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

Trump’s remarks on Sunday provoked strong reactions on Twitter, including from one Democratic lawmaker who accused the president of personal pettiness.

“The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn’t lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?” U.S. Representative Adam Schiff wrote on Twitter.

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  • tRump is a small-minded, petty attention grabber. Whether or not he had any significant influence in their release, I can’t say. But tRump will take as much credit as he possibly can. We all know that. Nonetheless, the jackasses thanked him for intervening on their behalf and that was the right thing to do. As for Mr. Ball, I have no words but I do wish he would shut up and be grateful that his stupid son and the other 2 class (less)-mates are back on US soil. Bottom line, they embarrassed their school, their basketball team, their families & more importantly, themselves. I hope they have the capacity to be remorseful, grateful and view this as an opportunity to learn how to bring their better selves to this and all situations they encounter as they grow and mature into men.

    • Lauri Sue Robertson

      I agree with EMM. trump is a useless blow-hard, but what these young men did was disgraceful. It had to have been their idea of a joke, since I can’t imagine anything they’d steal being something they’d need but couldn’t afford. Just immature jerks – all four of them. (the kids and the president)

  • shoplifting IS a big deal. These boys need to be very, very grateful that they didn’t wind up in a Chinese Jail for being stupid, entitled, and whatever else was going on in their pea brains! They disgraced themselves and our nation. I’m no Trump fan, but if he even so much as mentioned their release to the Chinese Government, these boys and their parents need to thank him and apologize for disgracing the nation. Does Otto Warmbier mean ANYTHING to these idiots?! His life was over 30 seconds after he pulled a poster off the wall! I am beyond disgusted with these guys.

    • Oh, come on—-some teenagers do stupid stuff like this—and yes, it was stupid—-they were caught, they gave the items back, and they were detained. They have since been suspended off their teams, so yeah, they’re been punished, and they did thank the president (even though I honestly doubt if he had that much to do with it as he claims—trumpf has a history of claiming credit for things he really didn’t do in order to make himself look good.) Three grown white men got caught doing something stupid at the Olympics and lied about it (at least one of them lost all his endorsement deals afterwards, and deservedly so) and I don’t see you mentioned that. These boys aren’t the only athletes who have done something incredibly stupid overseas.

  • As with most of the President’s tweets, one has to wonder its purpose. Is it just intended to be a distraction from the escalating Russia investigation or the terrible GOP tax reform proposals? Or, perhaps, is it an effort to highlight what turned out to be Trump’s only positive accomplishment during his extended Asia trip?

  • LaVar Ball, famous father of the most famous of the three, on the Cable News Network: “You know where my boy is at right now because of me. Because I spent all that time and love for him. Don’t come in one time and think you did something for my son. I don’t have to go around saying thank you to everybody.”
    Sounds to me like papa’s taking credit (blame?) for his baller son’s sub-par shoplifting skills.

    • What Ball was saying that he raised his boys right, and that he didn’t believe it was trumpf who got the boys out of there, since he said trumpf never actually came and said anything to them while they were there. Plus,Ball clearly dosen’t like trumpf, and dosen’t want to give him the credit for anything he supposedly did.

      • I don’t believe Trump did a thing because the longer those players were detained, the longer it played into his racist rabble rousing. He would have preferred they be detained for months, then the bloated prevaricator could have swept in to save the Black “savages”.

        Now all he has is “ungrateful” for unspecified “help”. He’s a consummate liar, so I’d have to see proof if he said it was raining outside.

        That said, the three of them should never be allowed to play NCAA sports again.

  • Charity Dell

    This is called PROJECTION. Johnson accused African Americans of his own sins!
    That’s what guilty hypocrites do–PROJECTION.

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