Remember when Donald Trump claimed to have been the reason LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA players were released from China after a shoplifting incident? This new evidence may prove otherwise…
Something is not adding up here. The UCLA shoplifting case involving LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley, in China was reportedly solved before President Donald Trump claimed to have been involved in the matter. He claimed he was the reason the Bruins’ players were released from China, after speaking with China’s president, Xi Jinping. However, a team source discovered that the timeline of events during the incident may reveal that Trump’s involvement came after the men were released, ESPN‘s Arash Markazi reports.
The article revealed that Ball and his two other teammates had already been released and had the charges against them dropped before Trump claimed to have been involved in the matter. Markazi’s timeline of events details how the issue had seemingly been resolved before White House chief of staff, John Kelly had phoned the players to let know Trump had intervened.
The timeline in part reads:
Sunday, Nov. 12
Donald Trump first found out about the situation, according to The New York Times, when members of his staff saw it on CNN just before Trump’s dinner with the president of China, Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Thursday. Trump would later tell reporters on Tuesday, Nov. 14, that he first heard about the situation “two days ago,” at which point he personally asked the Chinese president to look into the matter.
The White House did not respond to requests to clear up the timeline, but UCLA sources say they didn’t become aware of Trump’s involvement until Sunday when White House chief of staff John Kelly called the players to say that Trump was intervening on their behalf and that he was optimistic of a quick resolution. A Pac-12 source, who was not present for the actual call from Kelly, confirmed the UCLA sources’ description of the timeline.
“The situation was already resolved by the time we heard about Trump’s involvement,” one team source said. “That’s not to take away from the fact that he got involved, but the players already had their passports back and their flights booked to go home Tuesday night when Gen. Kelly called the players.”
In a New York Times story headlined “How Trump Helped Liberate UCLA ‘Knuckleheads’ from China,” Kelly said Trump’s intervention, as well as efforts by State Department diplomats, led to the reduction of the charges to the equivalent of misdemeanors as well as the release of the three players to their hotel where they were placed under temporary house arrest.
“The players were already checked into the hotel before the public discovered they were arrested,” a team source said. “They also were not under house arrest. It was our decision to keep them at the hotel until the situation was resolved. The charges were dropped, they weren’t reduced, and that happened two days before we heard from Gen. Kelly.”
Trump later went public with his “involvement” on Twitter, where he went as far as to taunt the college freshman for a “thank you.” He claimed to have saved them from 10 years in a China jail. The players later thanked Trump during a press conference when they returned to Los Angeles.
Amidst the chaos of the shoplifting incident, LiAngelo’s father, LaVar Ball refuted Trump’s claims saying that the president had no involvement in the matter. And, as a result, Trump called Ball an ” ungrateful fool”. However, the result of Markazi’s new and very detailed report points out that LaVar Ball, may have right the entire time.
The UCLA shoplifting case occured during the Bruins’ trip to Shanghai for a season-opening game against Georgia Tech.
Trump has yet to speak out about the new evidence discovered by ESPN… But, it’s only a matter of time until he does. In the meantime, here’s some of his tweets from when the incident occured.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017