McCarthy contradicts Trump on Warmbier: 'I think Kim knew what happened'

McCarthy contradicts Trump on Warmbier: 'I think Kim knew what happened'
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Trump to attack Biden in CPAC speech McConnell knocks Pelosi Jan. 6 commission proposal: 'Partisan by design' MORE (R-Calif.) said Sunday that he believes Kim Jong Un knew about the treatment of Otto Warmbier, days after President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE said he took the North Korean leader at his word that he was unaware of the American student's treatment.

"Look, North Korea murdered Otto," McCarthy said on "This Week" on ABC. "I think Kim had all authority to do that. I mean, I think Kim knew what happened, which was wrong. That’s why when we passed sanctions we named them after Otto Warmbier."

McCarthy said he believes Trump clarified his comments, a reference to a tweet in which the president claimed he was "misinterpreted."


Host George Stephanopoulos noted that the president's tweet said he holds North Korea responsible for Warmbier's death, not Kim specifically. 

"Well, I think Kim knew," McCarthy responded.

Trump sparked bipartisan outrage following his summit last week in Vietnam with Kim when he said during a press conference that the North Korean had denied involvement in Warmbier's death, adding, "I will take him at his word."

Warmbier, who was a University of Virginia student, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster during a January 2016 visit to Pyongyang. He was reportedly in a coma when he was sent back to the U.S. in 2017 and died at age 22 a short time later.

Republicans and Democrats alike have condemned the comments and said Kim was responsible for Warmbier's death. Warmbier's parents later issued a statement saying Kim's government was responsible for their son's death, and that "no excuses or lavish praise can change that."