Trump Blames Obama for Not Doing More to Bring Otto Warmbier Home Sooner
President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to blame former President Barack Obama for not bringing Otto Warmbier home from North Korea sooner.
“It’s a disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump said to reporters. “It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto.”
“It should never, ever be allowed to happen. And frankly, if he were brought home sooner, I think the results would have been a lot different. He should have been brought home that day.”
Trump added that he had spoken with Warmbier’s family.
When asked if Obama had done enough to secure Warmbier’s release during a June 16 press conference, Otto’s father, Fred, echoed Trump’s sentiments saying the results “speak for themselves.”
Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained in March 2016 after North Korean officials accused him of attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
US officials negotiated his release earlier this month, though Warmbier was in a coma by the time he arrived in the US. While North Korean officials said he had fallen into a coma after contracting botulism, US doctors who examined Warmbier said he suffered severe neurological trauma while in detention and showed no traces of the toxin.
Warmbier died at age 22 on Monday.
The White House released a statement on Monday offering Trump and first lady Melania’s “deepest condolences” to Warmbier’s family.
“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim,” the statement reads.
Warmbier’s family also released a statement on Monday announcing his death.
“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the statement reads. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.”
Former President Barack Obama has issued a statement about Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died this week, days after being released from North Korea in a coma after more than a year in captivity.
“During the course of the Obama Administration, we had no higher priority than securing the release of Americans detained overseas,” Obama spokesman Ned Price said in the statement. “Their tireless efforts resulted in the release of at least 10 Americans from North Korean custody during the course of the Obama administration.”
Added Price, who was National Security Counsel spokesperson during Obama’s administration: “It is painful that Mr. Warmbier was not among them, but our efforts on his behalf never ceased, even in the waning days of the administration. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Warmbier’s family and all who had the blessing of knowing him.”