House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyWoodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Thompson says he hopes Jan 6. committee can complete work by 'early spring' Juan Williams: Shame on the anti-mandate Republicans MORE (R-Calif.) on Thursday blasted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as someone who is not a "friend" of the United States, hours after President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE defended Kim over the treatment of American college student Otto Warmbier.
“I do not see the leader of North Korea as somebody who is a friend. We know what happened to Otto; we know what this country has done,” McCarthy told reporters. “I support the president’s effort to denuclearize them but I do not have a misbelief of who this leader is.”
McCarthy, a close ally of Trump, pushed back hours after the president said following a meeting with Kim in Vietnam that he didn’t believe the North Korean leader had anything to do with the torture and eventual death of Warmbier, a University of Virginia student from Ohio.
The American college student was arrested and imprisoned by North Korea in late 2015 for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster. While in custody, he suffered a neurological injury, and after Trump negotiated his release, Warmbier returned to the U.S. in June 2017 in a coma and later died.
McCarthy said Thursday that Congress has taken a tough stance against North Korea, especially with regard to Warmbier. A year ago, Warmbier’s parents attended Trump's State of the Union address and received a standing ovation. And two years ago, the House, then under GOP control, passed sanctions against North Korea that were named in honor of Warmbier, McCarthy noted.
As Trump’s second summit with Kim wrapped up in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday, Trump told reporters that the two leaders had discussed Warmbier during their meetings and that the North Korean leader “felt badly about it. He felt badly.”
"I don't believe he knew about it," Trump said at a news conference in Hanoi. "He tells me that he didn't know about it, and I will take him at his word."