By David Kiefaber / November 15, 2017

Trump Wants a Thank You From UCLA Players Released From China

Trump said he discussed players' arrest with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump Wants a Thank You From UCLA Players Released From China

President Donald Trump is picking yet another fight with an American sports organization, demanding gratitude from three UCLA basketball players who were released from jail in China earlier this week.

The players in question are UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, who were accused of shoplifting prior to a Shanghai game against Georgia Tech. They were released on Tuesday, and have since returned to the US. Trump takes credit for their release, citing a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping where he claims their arrest was discussed.

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

Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly backed the president’s claim, telling the New York Times that “our president said to Xi, ‘Do you know anything about these knuckleheads that got caught allegedly stealing?'” He also claims that Trump told Xi “it’s not too serious. We’d love to see this taken care of in an expeditious way.'” Kelly passed this message along to UCLA associate athletic director Chris Carlson, and to the players themselves via phone call.

It’s possible that the president did intervene on their behalf, since there is footage of the players stealing Louis Vuitton sunglasses from a mall, in order to avoid an embarrassing international incident.