The tragic saga of Otto Warmbier ended with the 22-year-old University of Virginia student dying due to suspicious circumstances shortly after being handed back over to the United States. According to autopsy reports, Warmbier died due to “brain-damaging oxygen deprivation through “an unknown insult more than a year prior to death,” or “chronic anoxic/ischemic encephalopathy.” However, the manner by which it happened is still a mystery.
The Warmbiers, and indeed President Donald Trump, both agree that Warmbier was tortured to death during his time in captivity, with Trump even tweeting it out publicly.
Great interview on @foxandfriends with the parents of Otto Warmbier: 1994 – 2017. Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
However, during their recent meeting, Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un spoke about Warmbier. According to Un, he had no idea about what was being done to the student, and Trump said he believes him.
“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” the President said during a press conference in Hanoi.
This has caused a backlash, however, outside of the realm of politics. The parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are speaking out against Trump’s belief that Un is innocent.
“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,” they said in a statement.
Otto Warmbier’s parents have responded. “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…” pic.twitter.com/esU45U8JVL
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) March 1, 2019
The anger over Trump’s words about Un have seeped into both sides of the aisle. On the Democrats’ side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wondered allowed why Trump is believing the words of a “thug.”
Pelosi on Trump's Otto Warmbier comments:
"The president has believed Putin as opposed to believing his own intelligence leadership … It's strange. And I don't know, there's something wrong with Putin, Kim Jong Un – in my view, thugs – that the president chooses to believe." pic.twitter.com/6NKixaEZ2M
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 28, 2019
Meanwhile, on the Republican end, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum called Trump’s belief of Un “reprehensible.”
“This is reprehensible what he just did. He gave cover… to a leader who knew very well what was going on with Otto Warmbier,” @RickSantorum says about Pres. Trump saying he believes Kim Jong Un’s claim he wasn't aware of the American student’s condition https://t.co/2JAkMvsnCI pic.twitter.com/kdGjff7N7r
— CNN (@CNN) February 28, 2019