Family of Marine detained in Russia says Biden declined meeting in Texas
Relatives of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine detained in Russia, say they plan to stage a demonstration outside the location of President Biden’s upcoming address in Fort Worth, Texas on Tuesday after the White House declined a meeting with them during the trip.
Trevor Reed’s father, Joey Reed, told The Hill in an interview that the White House cited schedule constraints in declining the meeting. President Biden is slated to travel to Fort Worth to visit the local Veterans Affairs facility and discuss expanding health care access for veterans affected by burn pit exposures.
Reed’s parents, Joey and Paula Reed, and his sister, Taylor Reed, are expected to demonstrate to raise awareness about his case on Tuesday morning instead, according to a spokesman for the family.
Joey Reed said the demonstration is an “act of desperation.”
“We desperately want to meet with our president who we voted for,” he told The Hill in an interview Monday. “Our family are centrists.”
“We just think that it would benefit everyone if we could just speak to him for a few minutes,” he said.
Asked why Biden was not meeting with the Reed family, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday that the White House is working on scheduling a meeting in the future.
“We are working toward setting up a meeting with his family. The president is looking forward to doing that,” Psaki said en route to Fort Worth. “We weren’t able to make it happen on this trip.”
Psaki noted that White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Reed’s family last fall.
Trevor Reed, a Texas native, was detained in Russia in 2019 on charges of assaulting a police officer during a drunken incident. He was sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020. His family believes that Russia jailed him in hopes of using him as a pawn in a larger fight with the U.S.
Reed says he does not remember the incident.
During his service in the Marines, Reed served as a presidential guard at Camp David during the Obama administration.
The U.S. has called Reed’s detention unjust and has been working to secure his release, to no avail. His family now has concerns that the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine could negatively impact his case given the break in U.S.-Russian relations.
Russia is also holding Paul Whelan, another former Marine who is also a Canadian, British and Irish citizen, Whelan is serving a 16-year jail sentence after being accused and convicted of spying. His family denies the charge and the U.S. has also described his detention as unjust while pushing for his release.
Biden raised the cases of both Reed and Whelan during his one-on-one meeting with Putin last summer in Geneva.
News recently broke that WNBA star Brittany Griner was detained in Russia after authorities said they found vape cartridges with hashish oil in her bags.
Asked about any efforts to secure Griner’s release Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the government could not address specifics because of a Privacy Act waiver.
“We obviously do everything we can when there are any reports of Americans who are detained through the State Department and through diplomatic channels,” Psaki said.
Updated at 2:31 p.m.