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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 TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge 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 HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (D-Md.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyAppeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy MORE (R-Pa.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (D-Ohio) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBiden says transition outreach from Trump administration has been 'sincere' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience 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.

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“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.