Bill Richardson: Trump comments on Warmbier 'almost a human rights violation'

Bill Richardson: Trump comments on Warmbier 'almost a human rights violation'
© Greg Nash

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE for deflecting blame from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the death of American Otto Warmbier.

Richardson, who was involved in U.S. efforts to secure Warmbier's release, told CNN on Thursday that Trump's comments practically amounted to a "human rights violation."

"It's unfortunate. It's almost a human rights violation," Richardson said of Trump's comments. "The president should know better. And what should happen is a full accounting: Kim Jong Un should say, to his intelligence people, 'let's tell the truth on this.' But they're not going to do it."

Warmbier was held by North Korea and died from his injuries after being released to the U.S.

It's "inconceivable that Kim Jong Un wouldn't know" about Warmbier's treatment in custody, Richardson said.

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Richardson was asked by CNN's Kate Bolduan if Trump's remarks made other U.S. travelers in North Korea more vulnerable.

"Well, any American hostage around the world, especially in a regime like Russia, [is]," Richardson responded. "Doesn't give the families of American hostages much strength, or faith in their own government."

The former U.N. ambassador and former New Mexico governor's comments come following President Trump's second summit with Kim Jong Un, this time in Hanoi, Vietnam. At a press conference, Trump appeared to shift blame from Kim for Warmbier's 2017 death.

"I don't believe he knew about it," Trump said of Kim at a press conference on Thursday. "He tells me that he didn't know about it, and I will take him at his word."

The remark drew immediate condemnation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Republicans.

"We must remember Otto, and we should never let North Korea off the hook for what they did to him," said Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to combat cyberattacks on state and local governments MORE (R-Ohio), who represents Warmbier's home state, hours after Trump's comments.