News World Donald Trump says he should have left UCLA players in Chinese jail
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Donald Trump says he should have left UCLA players in Chinese jail

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Almost a year into his presidency Donald Trump has his first victory on Capitol Hill with the Senate's okay for a tax-reform package. Photo: Getty
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US President Donald Trump has hit out at the perceived ingratitude of three college basketball players accused of shoplifting in China last week, saying he should have left them in jail.

Mr Trump’s tweet on Sunday (local time) came after the father of player LiAngelo Ball, in comments to ESPN, minimised the President’s involvement in winning the players’ release.

“Who?” LaVar Ball told ESPN on Friday (local time), when asked about Mr 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 University of California Los Angeles players returned to the United States last week. They have been indefinitely suspended from the team.

“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!” Mr Trump said.

He later added Mr Ball should have secured his son’s release, calling him “very ungrateful”.

“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” LaVar Ball told ESPN.

“I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes’.

“I’m from LA. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him,” he said.

Donald Trump LaVar Ball
LaVar Ball downplayed the President’s involvement in his son’s release. Photo: Getty

Mr Trump last week called for gratitude from the players.

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

The President received the thanks of the players at a news conference later that day, where they also apologised for their behaviour.

Mr Trump later issued a follow-up message to the students on Thursday, wishing them a “great life”.

“To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You’re welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!” he wrote on Twitter.

-with agencies

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