Politics

Trump suggests UCLA athletes should thank him after shoplifting incident

President Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Associated Press
President Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

President Trump suggested on Twitter that the UCLA athletes who were involved in a shoplifting incident in China should thank him for his help in getting them out of trouble with Chinese authorities.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump claimed the players were “headed for 10 years in jail” and wondered whether they would thank him.

The UCLA basketball players, one of whom is the brother of rookie Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, were accused of stealing designer sunglasses from a Hangzhou shopping mall last week.

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Trump intervened in the case while he was on his trip to Asia, reportedly bringing the situation up directly with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

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The athletes were eventually allowed to return to the United States, arriving in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

It’s unclear how much jail time the players could have faced had they been convicted, but White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told the New York Times the three had been charged with the Chinese equivalent of a felony.

A statement on Tuesday from the Pacific-12 athletic conference thanked the president and the State Department, and said the matter had been “resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities.”