Trump tweets about Otto Warmbier, but not Kim
Cincinnati — President Donald Trump says his view on North Korea’s role in an American college student’s death is being misinterpreted, while steering clear of citing that country’s leader.
Trump took to Twitter on Friday afternoon after a statement by the late Otto Warmbier’s (warm-BEER’) parents contradicting him by blaming Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) “and his evil regime.” A Trump tweet says: “Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto’s mistreatment and death.”
Trump praised the Warmbiers as “a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength.”
Trump didn’t walk back his earlier comments that he took Un “at his word” that he wasn’t aware of how the Ohio young man was being treated during 17 months in captivity. Warmbier died soon after his 2017 release.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier had pushed back in a statement Friday, saying they had remained silent earlier this week while Trump and Kim met in Vietnam. “Now we must speak out,” they said.
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity,” they said. “No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”
The 22-year-old University of Virginia student died in June 2017 after being returned home in a vegetative state. His parents have said he was tortured. The suburban Cincinnati youth was visiting North Korea with a tour group when he was detained in 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.
North Korea has denied mistreating Warmbier. The White House did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.
During a news conference Thursday after a two-day summit with Kim in Vietnam, Trump was asked if he and Kim had discussed Otto Warmbier and whether he had asked the North Korean leader to take responsibility for what happened to him.
Trump said “something very bad happened” to Warmbier, but added that he didn’t believe Kim knew about it or would have allowed it to happen.
“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Trump said.
Some lawmakers and others have criticized the president’s comments.