President Donald J. Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un had what appears to have been an unproductive second summit in Hanoi. Despite the two sides parting ways without any type of formal agreement regarding nuclear dismantlement and economic sanctions, Trump still went to bat for Jong-un by defending the North Korean leader’s claims of ignorance regarding American Otto Warmbier’s imprisonment and subsequent death.
Per Time, a reporter recently asked Trump why he’s maintained his friendly relationship with Kim Jong-un in the wake of Warmbier’s mistreatment. Trump’s response made it clear that he doesn’t believe Jong-un was involved.
“He tells me he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word. I don’t believe he would have allowed that to happen. It just wasn’t to his advantage.”
Otto Warmbier’s family, on the other hand, does not have the same optimistic outlook on the situation. Otto received a 15-year hard labor prison sentence after being accused of stealing a single government propaganda banner from a hotel. Instead of serving out his term, Warmbier somehow fell into a coma before being returned to the U.S. in critical condition.
.#Yuge #DPRKNews & #InternationalNews#OttoWarmbier was never the same after his stay in #NorthKorean Prison. He returned home in a coma after #PresidentTrump took office as #POTUS45 & died a few days later.#NoJustice#NeverForget #Otto#NorthKorea#Pray for #Warmbier Family pic.twitter.com/EK5mHEo34A— Wm Favre Slater, III (@billslater) February 28, 2019
Fred Warmbier told Time that his son exhibited severe medical issues before his untimely death, including being deaf and blind. No answers have been provided for how a prison sentence turned into such a serious array of medical issues. What’s more, Warmbier died mere days after his release. Trump speculated about the cause of Otto Warmbier’s injuries by saying that North Korean prisons are “rough places, and bad things happen.”
Fred and Cindy Warmbier took umbrage with Trump’s recent remarks, especially because they completely contradicted the president’s early statements regarding the matter. NBC News reported that the Warmbiers released a statement attacking Kim Jong-un and Trump’s current stance on their son’s death.
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto… [and] for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”
The Warmbier family is not alone in calling out Trump’s decision to back Kim Jong-un’s version of events. The Inquisitr pointed out that several members of the GOP were publicly outraged by Trump’s statement, viewing it as condoning unforgivable human rights violations. Trump was also hammered by Democrats for not only backing Jong-un but for also almost immediately trying to make the narrative about himself by once again taking full credit for Warmbier’s release.
My GOP brothers and sisters...don’t ignore potus insult to #Warmbier family and to this country. What you ignore you empower. Stand up for Otto and for the rule of law and stand against potus putting his own personal interests before America’s. #SpeakTruth #LetsGetAfterIt— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) February 28, 2019
Amnesty International USA advocacy manager Francisco Bencosme penned an article for Time detailing Trump’s continual flip-flopping regarding North Korea. Twice in the past, Trump has stated his commitment to helping free the people of North Korea. He also previously took the Warmbier family’s side and pledged to get justice for Otto.
Now, Trump has signaled that his friendship with Kim Jong-un takes precedence over his previous statements. This is similar to the president’s decision to back Russian leader Vladimir Putin against election interference claims instead of believing U.S. intelligence agencies. Due to these repeated instances, Amnesty International accused Trump of showcasing “his own disdain for human rights.”
North Korea is known to have at least 120,000 political prisoners in labor camps that are believed to mirror the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Kim Jong-un denies the existence of these camps, although satellite images and first-hand accounts from escapees have confirmed that the camps are real.
GQ published an illuminating report that questions everything about Otto Warmbier’s supposed crime and subsequent confession. Per Warmbier’s North Korean trip roommate, Danny Gratton, Otto didn’t commit any crimes, but was set up and forced to make a false confession. Either way, the Warmbier family no longer has their son, and Trump has apparently chosen to side with Jong-un instead of holding the North Korean leader personally responsible.