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

Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching Trump officials vow to reform Fannie, Freddie if Congress doesn't act 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 MnuchinBolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Trump called out for 'my favorite dictator' while awaiting Egyptian leader at summit: report Romney opposes Trump taking executive action to reduce capital gains taxes 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.

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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 TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE told then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonPompeo sees status grow with Bolton exit Trump blasts 'Mr. Tough Guy' Bolton: 'He made some very big mistakes' Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network 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 BoltonLiz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Bolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' 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.