On Sunday, the White House walked back President Biden's remarks that he'd be "open" to trading cybercriminals with Russia.
When Biden looked amenable to Vladimir Putin's offer that the Kremlin would extradite cybercriminals if the US responded in kind, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One that Biden was not talking about "exchanges or swaps."
“He’s not saying he’s going to be exchanging cybercriminals with Russia,” Sullivan said of Biden.
“There’s no cybercriminals who have committed crimes in Russia he’s looking at, thinking, ‘I’m going to exchange them,’ ” Sullivan said.
“I think that was over-read or misread in the press coming out of there.”
During the conclusion of the G-7 conference of world leaders in the United Kingdom, Biden was asked about Putin's proposition.
“If there are crimes against Russia, I'm open to it,” Biden stated.
“That in fact the people committing those crimes are being harbored in the United States, I’m committed to holding him accountable.”
Sullivan later clarified that the president was not reacting to the specific notion of exchanging criminals after the remarks were widely publicized.
“What he was saying was that if Vladimir Putin wants to come and say ‘I’m prepared to make sure cybercriminals are held accountable,’ Joe Biden is perfectly willing to show up and say ‘cybercriminals will be held accountable in America’ – because they already are,” Sullivan said.