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President Trump Thinks Kim Jong Un Is Not Responsible For Otto Warmbier's Death


And one more note about the summit. At his press conference in Hanoi, President Trump was asked about the death of an American college student named Otto Warmbier.


DAVID NAKAMURA: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. You have a personal relationship, and I believe Vice President Pence does, with the family of Otto Warmbier.


NAKAMURA: I'm wondering...


Otto Warmbier was the American college student detained by North Korea in 2016 and convicted of trying to steal a propaganda poster. Sometime while in detention, he fell into a coma. He never regained consciousness.

SHAPIRO: It's not known for certain what happened to Warmbier while he was imprisoned. The North Koreans say that Warmbier contracted botulism. The Warmbier family says he was tortured. He was released to the U.S. in June of 2017, and he died a week later.

KELLY: Which brings us back to the press conference today - Washington Post reporter David Nakamura asked Trump if he had spoken to Kim Jong Un about what happened.


NAKAMURA: Have you, in Singapore or here, confronted Kim Jong Un about Otto Warmbier's death...

TRUMP: I have.

NAKAMURA: ...Asked him to take responsibility? And what did he say to you? And why do you call him your friend?

TRUMP: I have. And I have talked about it, and I really don't think it was in his interest at all. I know the Warmbier family very well. I think they're an incredible family. What happened is...

KELLY: President Trump said whatever happened to Warmbier was, quote, "horrible," but concluded Kim Jong Un was not responsible.


TRUMP: I really don't believe that he was - he - I don't believe he knew about it.

NAKAMURA: Did he say - did he tell you that he did not - did Kim Jong Un tell you...

TRUMP: He felt badly about it.

KELLY: And Trump added, he believed it when Kim said he didn't know anything about it.


TRUMP: You know, you got a lot of people - big country, lot of people. And in those prisons and those camps, you have a lot of people. And some really bad things happened to Otto - some really, really bad things.

NAKAMURA: Why are you...

TRUMP: But he tells me that he didn't know about it, and I will take him at his word. Yes, ma'am. Go ahead, please.

KELLY: The president's comments today drew comparisons to his accepting the denials of Vladimir Putin on Russian interference in the 2016 election and Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

SHAPIRO: Both Democrats and Republicans criticized Trump today, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, speaking here from the capital.


KEVIN MCCARTHY: I do not see the leader of North Korea as somebody who's a friend. We know what happened to Otto. We know what this country has done. I support the president in his effort to denuclearize them, but I do not have a misbelief of who this leader is.

SHAPIRO: The family of Otto Warmbier has not responded. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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