On Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked to elaborate on Biden’s remarks when he said he was hopeful that Russia would be more willing to discuss weed-smuggler WNBA player Brittney Griner’s release now that the midterm elections are over.

“Well, the fact is and what the president was alluding to, is the fact that the Russians up until now have not engaged with the seriousness of purpose in the constructive approach that we would have liked to have seen. We put forward this substantial proposal, as Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken announced a number of months ago now, for the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,” Price said.

He continued: “The fact that Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner remain behind bars – Brittney Griner for some 10 months now, Paul Whelan for more than three years now – is a testament to the fact that this process has not moved as quickly as we would have liked. You’ve heard us say that from our end. This process has not been static. We put forward this substantial proposal. We’ve had discussions with the Russians. Those discussions are continuing. We’re continuing to look for ways that we can secure as quickly as possible the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, so that they can be returned to their loved ones here in the United States.”

Price said Thursday that the White House was not informed of Brittney Griner’s transfer to a penal colony.