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

Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: S&P hits record as stocks rally on Fed cut hopes | Facebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics | Internal IRS watchdog rips agency's taxpayer service | Apple seeks tariff relief Facebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics Facebook's crypto experiment will languish on Capitol Hill 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 MnuchinTrump's tax returns — DOJ trying to put off the inevitable? GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back 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 TrumpFormer Joint Chiefs chairman: 'The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran' Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time MORE told then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonBolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration Trump's nastiest break-ups: A look at the president's most fiery feuds Ex-Trump campaign adviser on Tillerson remarks: Trump will 'pick a fight with anybody' 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 Robert BoltonPence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time Trump: No preconditions on talks with Iran 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.