Tapper on Trump’s tweet about Otto Warmbier comments: ‘There’s no misinterpretation’

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CNN host Jake Tapper condemned President Trump’s remarks Friday seeking to clean up his claims that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was unaware of the treatment of American college student Otto Warmbier.

“There’s no misinterpretation here. It’s very clear,” Tapper said of Trump’s remarks. “The Warmbiers say that Kim is responsible, along with North Korea, and President Trump says he takes Kim at his word that he wasn’t.”

{mosads}Tapper’s comments came shortly after Trump wrote in a pair of tweets Friday afternoon that he believed his remarks at a Thursday news conference were “misinterpreted.”

“I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family. Remember, I got Otto out along with three others,” he tweeted Friday. “The previous Administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch. Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto’s mistreatment and death.”

Others were quick to pan Trump over his claim.

“There was no misinterpretation,” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted.

“You weren’t misinterpreted. We all saw the remarks for ourselves. What you should’ve said originally is what you said here,” conservative radio host Steve Deace wrote on Twitter. “Please stop emasculating yourself before North Korea. Your original strong stance got far more out of them. Go back to that.” 

Speaking with North Korean leader Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday, the president appeared to defend Kim, assuring reporters that he wasn’t responsible for Warmbier’s harsh treatment in captivity.

“He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word,” Trump said. Trump told reporters that the North Korean leader was aware of Warmbier’s case “but he knew it later.”

The comments drew widespread backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who accused the president of cozying up to a dictator.

“I personally find that statement extremely hard to believe,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Thursday.

“President [Trump] is once again simply deciding to take a cruel and brutal dictator at his word. He owes Otto Warmbier’s parents an apology. Now,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier Friday.

Warmbier’s parents issued a rare statement Friday morning in an apparent rebuke of Trump’s comments. 

“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that,” they said.

Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested in January 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster while touring Pyongyang. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor but later was released to the United States in a vegetative state. He died at age 22 in June 2017.

The president did not clarify on Friday whether he believed Kim bears responsibility for Warmbier’s death.

He previously said Warmbier was “tortured beyond belief” while he was held captive in North Korea.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Susan Collins

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