Trump claims Otto Warmbier comments were ‘misinterpreted’
President Trump on Friday claimed that he was “misinterpreted” when he said he took Kim Jong Un “at his word” when the dictator denied knowing what happened to US college student Otto Warmbier’s while he was in a North Korean prison.
“I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family. Remember, I got Otto out along with three others. The previous Administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch,” Trump wrote on Twitter after increasing criticism of his acceptance of Kim’s denial.
“Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto’s mistreatment and death. Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain. Otto and his family have become a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength, which will last for many years into the future. I love Otto and think of him often!” he continued, without mentioning Kim or his denial.
Earlier Friday, Warmbier’s parents directly blamed Kim for their son’s death and blasted his “evil regime.”
“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a scathing statement that rebuked Trump’s assertion.
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that,” added the couple, who were Trump’s guests at his 2018 State of the Union address.
The president drew criticism when he praised Kim’s leadership and said he believed the despot’s claims that he was unaware of how the 22-year-old college student from Ohio had been treated in a North Korean prison.
“Some really bad things happened to Otto — some really, really bad things. But he tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Trump said during a press conference after his summit with Kim broke down.
“I really don’t think it was in his interest at all,” he said, adding that Kim felt “very badly” about the young man’s death.