President Biden phoned Elizabeth yesterday [7/8/2022] as she was walking in New York City. It caught her by surprise, as she had only just spoken with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan the day before. As Elizabeth put it:
I was very surprised to receive a call from President Biden as I was walking down a noisy New York street on Friday. I quickly turned into an empty restaurant to hear properly, realizing this really was the President on the phone.
President Biden assured me that the US government was doing all it could to bring about Paul's safe return from his wrongful detention in Russia. We spoke for several minutes and I was touched by the President's obvious concern and empathy for Paul's plight and the Whelan family's distress.
I apologize for the delay in updating you. We were unsure whether we could share that the President had called, as it hasn't been listed at Whitehouse.gov. And then Elizabeth was working, as an artwork she created is being added to the U.S. Coast Guard's collection. My only excuse is that I took the opportunity to sleep. As the families of wrongfully detained Americans must do every day, it was a balancing of resources.
Our family is very grateful to the President for making the call. It is reassuring and we remain confident that his Administration is doing what it can for Paul. We hope that their determined effort will yield some result and that Paul will soon be home. In the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the State Department and other agencies.
Our mum exhibited how much of a rollercoaster this week has been. She and our dad experience most of this the way every other American does: by seeing the news. Her emails to us through the past few days have told the story, with her anguish tracking Elizabeth's but without even the context or details that Elizabeth might have. And this morning, somewhat elated to know that the President really does consider Paul's case a priority.
I hope the White House will find a way to reassure other families who have wrongfully detained loved ones. I don't expect that this was the sort of "noise" that the State Department staff had intended to have the Whelans involved in. None of us really benefit from the drama.
As Elizabeth says, we'll continue to work hard until Paul is home. The President's call doesn't really change anything: hard work is occurring but it hasn't yet borne a result. We will work and pray for that result to come as quickly as possible.