The moment President Trump meets Chairman Kim at the DMZ and becomes the first sitting President to enter North Korea: pic.twitter.com/VwqGAEmmxz
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 30, 2019
Pundits knocked President Donald Trump‘s cozy meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone on Sunday, because it looked like POTUS was continuing to give a pass for the death of college student Otto Warmbier.
Remember Otto Warmbier. https://t.co/EjqZ4zggrZ
— Björn Stritzel (@bjoernstritzel) June 30, 2019
Kim Jong Un presides over a regime that destroyed an American citizen — Otto Warmbier. Say his name. Say it. https://t.co/jyXbU3jRxR
— Jeremy Fugleberg (@jayfug) June 30, 2019
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 30, 2019
Trump addresses Jong-un as “my friend,” and said the face-to-face meeting at the spot was an honor.
Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested during a visit on North Korean soil for allegedly stealing a political poster from his hotel. This claim got him sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Bizarre details sprung from his one hour trial in March 2016. Video showed Warmbier apparently admitting what happened, but reading from a prepared statement, which implicated the U.S. government. This event was criticized as a kangaroo court.
“Is this where your goons beat Otto Warmbier to death? No? What about here” https://t.co/nbY2OefLvN
— shauna (@goldengateblond) June 30, 2019
They never kidnap and torture western celebrities. They save that for ordinary people like Otto Warmbier. https://t.co/gI22Q81ItX
— Still A Very Very Highly Respected Hat (@NonWhiteHat) June 30, 2019
I cannot imagine the agony of Otto Warmbier’s parents this morning. https://t.co/GClL0dwgIr
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) June 30, 2019
The U.S. Government under the Trump administration was able to get him released after he was imprisoned for over a year, but the damage was done. Shortly before Warmbier passed away in June 2017, a doctor determined the college student had lost a lot of brain tissue, showed no sign of understanding language, and didn’t exhibit “purposeful movements or behavior.” North Korea tried to pass this off a possible result of botulism, but the doctor said there were no signs of that. Warmbier’s parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier won a $500 million judgment in their son’s torture and death, but it’s unclear if North Korea will ever pay.
Trump’s cozy relationship with the North Korean strongman isn’t new, but the Sunday meeting was a clear indicator that there will be more of the same. He said earlier this year that he spoke with Jong-un about Warmbier’s death, and he accepted the strongman’s “word” about not previously knowing anything about the student.
“He felt badly about it,” said Trump. “He felt very badly.”
Warmbier’s parents had choice words for this.
“We have been respectful during this summit process,” they said in a statement, according to NBC News in a March report. “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.”
[Screengrab via White House]