SPONSORED:

Waters presses Treasury on North Korea's $2M 'bill' for Warmbier

Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed Maxine Waters says Biden win is 'dawn of a new progressive America' MORE (D-Calif.) is demanding answers from the Trump administration over whether it paid North Korea for the release of Otto Warmbier, calling it "outrageous" for Pyongyang to send a "bill" following the American college student's death.

Waters, the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans MORE on Friday asking for details after The Washington Post reported that a U.S. envoy signed a pledge agreeing to pay a $2 million bill issued by North Korea for Warmbier’s hospital care.

ADVERTISEMENT

Warmbier was held in North Korea for 18 months and was sent back to the U.S. in a coma in 2017 before dying shortly thereafter.

“It is outrageous that the hostile government of North Korea, which has taken U.S. hostages and tortured U.S. citizens, would have the audacity to present a ‘medical bill’ or ransom demand for their ultimately murderous actions; President Kim and the North Korean government are responsible for Otto Warmbier’s death," Waters said in her letter.

The California Democrat cited the Post report that said President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE told then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonPresident Trump: To know him is to 'No' him Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE that he approved of the envoy signing a pledge to pay the bill in exchange for Warmbier's release.

“President Trump has responded to the report by tweet, asserting that ‘no money’ was exchanged. Despite the President calling the story ‘fake news,’ his National Security Advisor, John BoltonJohn BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' MORE, has since confirmed the details on national television,” she wrote.

Bolton asserted last weekend on "Fox News Sunday" that the United States "absolutely" did not pay North Korea for Warmbier's release. But the national security adviser acknowledged that Joseph Yun, a State Department envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier, signed a pledge to pay North Korea for his release.

Waters voiced concerns over whether sanctions were waived or licenses issued to allow the payment to be made.

“The American people should know if the U.S. government accepted this ‘bill’/ransom demand, agreed to make such a payment, did make such a payment, made possible such payment, or used the potential for such payment as negotiating leverage,” she wrote. 

“That you and your Department may have managed this process, possibly in violation of our own North Korea sanctions programs, is also concerning," she added.

Waters requested the documents and information on actions taken by the Treasury Department to be provided to the House panel by May 10.