Trump Says He Should Have Left UCLA Players in Chinese Jail

WASHINGTON (AP) -
UCLA player LiAngelo Ball at a news conference last Wednesday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

President Donald Trump says he should have left three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China in jail.

Mr. Trump’s tweet Sunday comes after the father of one of the players minimized the president’s involvement in winning the players’ release in comments to ESPN.

“Who?” LaVar Ball told ESPN on Friday, when asked about Trump’s involvement in the matter. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

Mr. Trump has said he raised the players’ detention with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the leaders’ recent meeting in Beijing.

The players returned to the U.S. last week.

Says Trump: “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!”

Later, he added: “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!”