Otto Warmbier's mom urges Trump not to accept 'bad deal' as North Korea threatens 'Christmas gift'

Otto Warmbier's mom urges Trump not to accept 'bad deal' as North Korea threatens 'Christmas gift'

Cindy Warmbier, whose son Otto Warmbier died in 2017 after being returned to America from a North Korean prison in a vegetative state, on Wednesday urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE not to accept a “bad deal” with Pyongyang as North Korea threatens to send the United States a “Christmas gift."

“I’ve always said the same thing: don’t make a bad deal and don’t believe a word they say. And nothing’s changed,” Cindy Warmbier said Wednesday when asked by The Hill about her message to Trump in the face of renewed North Korean threats.

She also had a message for North Korea: “People matter. Otto matters. We’re never going to let you forget our son."

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Cindy Warmbier was speaking at a news conference alongside her husband, Fred Warmbier, and Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats offer mixed reactions to Trump's Mideast peace plan Trump offers two-state peace plan for Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid skepticism The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump lawyers to offer closing arguments on day 7 MORE (D-Md.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Senate Democrat: 'Fine' to hear from Hunter Biden MORE (D-Ohio) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell struggles to maintain GOP unity post-Bolton Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Collins walks impeachment tightrope MORE (R-Ohio) to tout new North Korea sanctions that passed Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Trump has said he will sign the NDAA “immediately” after it hits his desk.

Folded in the massive defense policy bill that passed the House last week and the Senate on Tuesday was legislation named after Otto Warmbier to impose secondary sanctions on financial entities doing business with North Korea.

Sponsors of the sanctions measure argue it’s necessary to plug the “leaky” sanctions regime that exists right now, particularly against Chinese banks facilitating business with North Korea.

The sanctions cleared Congress as North Korea ominously warns the United States it will deliver an unspecified “Christmas gift.” Pyongyang has also previously set a year-end deadline for the United States to soften its stance in denuclearization negotiations before it will take a “new path.”

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On Tuesday, the top U.S. Air Force general in the Pacific region said he expects North Korea’s "gift" to the United States will be a long-range missile test, which would break a self-imposed moratorium on such tests.

On Monday, Trump said he would be “disappointed” if North Korea is planning a long-range missile or nuclear test.

“I would be disappointed if something would be in the works, and if it is, we will take care of it,” Trump told reporters.

“We’re watching it very closely,” he continued.

In touting the sanctions Wednesday, Van Hollen said Congress’s actions “send a clear message” as North Korea makes its Christmas threats.

“We’re here together because we think it’s important to send a very clear message that we are going to respond to North Korean aggression by further ratcheting up economic pressure so that we can have a serious negotiation,” Van Hollen said.

Fred Warmbier, meanwhile, expressed hope the sanctions will force North Korea to change its behavior.

“This banking bill is very important to our efforts because it gives us more tools to force the North Koreans to engage on some level,” he said. “This to us is a great tool, and I think this is the method that can change North Korea’s behavior.”

Senators also made clear they expect Trump to implement the sanctions. Trump has in the past slow-walked or not imposed congressionally mandated sanctions, such as his continued reluctance to impose sanctions on Turkey for buying a Russian weapons system. 

“We’ll be taking our oversight responsibilities very seriously to make sure as Sen. Van Hollen said that these are in fact imposed unless there is a very, very substantial change in behavior that would merit the waiver,” Toomey said of himself and fellow Senate Banking Committee members.