Trump claims his refusal to blame Kim for Warmbier’s death was ‘misinterpreted’

Trump claims his refusal to blame Kim for Warmbier’s death was ‘misinterpreted’

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President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly ended their summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday after they couldn't reach a consensus. (Photo: White House Communications Agency)

WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump claimed Friday that his refusal to hold North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un directly responsible for American college student Otto Warmbier’s death was “misinterpreted.”

During a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday, Trump repeatedly claimed that Kim was unaware of the deterioration of the student’s health.

“[Kim] tells me he didn’t know about it,” Trump said then. “And I will take him at his word.”

Trump, who said he spoke to Kim about the young man’s death, said placing Warmbier in jeopardy was not within the dictator’s interests.

“I don’t believe that he would have allowed that to happen. It just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen,” Trump said. “Those prisons are rough. They’re rough places and bad things happened.”

The president has described Kim as a “great leader,” despite a well-documented history of extreme human rights violations.

Trump’s tweet came hours after Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the student’s parents, issued a statement countering President Donald Trump’s defense of the North Korean dictator.

“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 statement released to the media. “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”

Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American college student who went to North Korea on a tour, was arrested in January 2016 at the Pyongyang airport for having allegedly stolen a communist propaganda poster. Two months later, the regime sentenced him to 15 months of hard labor.

He was released from North Korean captivity in a comatose state in June of 2017. Staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center tried to resuscitate him, but he ultimately succumbed to a heart attack a few days later, according to doctors.

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