Pompeo refuses to say if he thinks Kim knew about Warmbier's mistreatment

Pompeo refuses to say if he thinks Kim knew about Warmbier's mistreatment
© Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Russian diplomat says election meddling wasn't discussed at White House, contradicting Trump MORE would not answer whether or not he believed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had knowledge about the mistreatment of American student Otto Warmbier.

“The North Korean regime is responsible for the death Otto Warmbier and the humanitarian violations that are continuing to take place,” Pompeo said when asked if he thought Kim was responsible, according to an interview published by USA Today on Sunday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The publication wrote that Pompeo was then silent when asked about Warmbier again, then added he had already answered the question.

Warmbier was detained in North Korea and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly taking a poster while he was on a trip there in 2016. Warmbier was returned to the United States in a vegetative state in 2017 and died shortly after. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE said last week that Kim told him he was unaware of the mistreatment.

“He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word,” Trump said to reporters last week after talks with Kim as part of their summit in Vietnam.

Trump faced swift and widespread backlash for those comments from lawmakers from both parties, and later went on to say his initial comments were “misinterpreted.”

Pompeo said Trump’s remarks regarding Kim are consistent with Pompeo’s work history and does not signal a wavering of America’s commitment to global human rights.

“Human rights around the world [has] been at the forefront of the work that I have done,” Pompeo told USA Today. “And I’ve had the full range of freedom, given to me by the president, to make sure that human rights were an important part of every engagement that I’ve had in both of those roles."