Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Arizona recount to show Trump's loss by even wider margin Biden criticizes treatment of Haitians as 'embarrassment' The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio 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 MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report Menendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS 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.
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 TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE told then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump 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 BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' 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.