Otto Warmbier's parents slam 'Kim and his evil regime' after Trump comments

The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died in 2017 after being returned from his detention in North Korea, spoke out on Friday following President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE’s apparent defense of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over their son's death. 

“We have been respectful during this summit process,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement. “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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Warmbier, a Cincinnati native and University of Virginia student, was arrested in January 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster while on a tour of Pyongyang. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor but later released to the United States in a vegetative state and died in June 2017.

During a press conference with Kim on Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam, the president tried to assure reporters that Kim wasn’t responsible for Warmbier’s harsh captivity.

“He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word,” Trump said.

Trump told reporters that the North Korean leader was aware of Warmbier's case "but he knew it later."

“And, you know, you’ve got a lot of people. Big country. Lot of people. And in those prisons and those camps, you have a lot of people,” Trump said. “And some really bad things happened to Otto. Some really bad things.”

The president has previously said that Warmbier was "tortured beyond belief" while in prison in North Korea.

Trump also took credit for Warmbier's release in 2017. 

Trump faced bipartisan backlash for his apparent defense of the North Korean leader, which left Republican senators fuming

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller GOP senator wears shirt honoring Otto Warmbier at Korean DMZ On The Money: Conservatives rally behind Moore for Fed | White House interviewing other candidates | Trump, Dems spar on Tax Day | Budget watchdogs bemoan 'debt denialism' MORE (R-Ohio), who represents Warmbier’s home state, warned Trump not to be “naive” about the “brutal nature” of the North Korean regime.

“I want to make clear that we can never forget about Otto. His treatment at the hands of his captors was unforgivable and it tells us a lot about the nature of the regime,” said Portman, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange MORE (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel, warned that Trump’s comments do “enormous damage” to the United States’ international standing. 

“He seems to find warmth with authoritarian dictatorships and believes them and their word when they have records of violating international law and human rights, [rather] than to believe our own intelligence community," Menendez said.