The parents of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student tortured in a North Korea jail before dying days after being returned home, slammed President Donald Trump Friday for believing Kim Jong Un knew nothing about their son’s death.Trump defended the North Korean dictator in a press conference Thursday, saying that Kim felt “very badly” about Warmbier’s death and knew nothing about his detention until after he died.
“I don't believe he knew about it,” Trump said of Kim. “He tells me that he didn't know about it, and I will take him at his word.”On Friday, Fred and Cindy Warmbier weighed in, blasting Trump’s support for Kim:“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. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that,” the Warmbier wrote in a statement.
Warmbier’s parents have been supportive of the Trump administration to date, attending Trump’s State of the Union address in January 2018, sitting in the first lady's guest box. Vice President Mike Pence even invited Fred Warmbier to the opening of the Winter Olympics in South Korea last year.The Warmbier parents aren't alone in their outrage; Trump’s remarks in Hanoi have elicited backlash from both sides of the aisle.“We must remember Otto, and we should never let North Korea off the hook for what they did to him,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who represents the Warmbier family, and who urged the president to address the incident with Kim before the summit, said in a statement:.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali) labeled Trump’s comments “strange” adding: “There’s something wrong with Putin, Kim Jong Un — in my view, thugs — that the president chooses to believe.”Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo) who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News that “the blood of Otto Warmbier is on the hands of Kim Jong Un. There is no doubt in my mind that he knew about it, he allowed it to happen, and the responsibility lies directly with Kim Jong Un.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) accused the president of “cowering” in front of Kim, while Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va) said Trump was “the only one who believes this obvious lie.”Cover: In this May 3, 2018, file photo, Fred Warmbier, right, and Cindy Warmbier, parents of Otto Warmbier, wait for a meeting at the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)