Republicans Distance Themselves from Trump’s Comments on Kim Jong Un and Otto Warmbier’s Death

The U.S. president came under criticism by fellow Republicans as they are seeking to distance themselves from his comment on defending North Korea leader Kim Jong Un when asked about American student Otto Warmbier’s death.

At the end of the U.S.-North Korea Summit, President Donald Trump said during Thursday’s press conference that he doesn’t believe “top leadership” in North Korea had a role in Warmbier’s death, as IJR Blue noted.

In 2015, while he was on a trip to North Korea, Warmbier was captured by officials and accused of being a spy. After spending 17 months there, he was returned to the U.S. in a coma and died days later.

Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Xinhua/Lu Rui/Getty Images

When asked about the incident by a reporter, President Trump claimed it was a “horrible” situation but wasn’t in Kim’s “advantage to allow that to happen.”

“He felt badly about it,” the president said about Kim.

“Some really bad things happened to Otto, some really really bad things but he tells me he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”

Watch the video below:

The president’s defense of Kim on the situation of Warmbier’s death drew backlash from the Republican Party.

Nikki Haley

Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley indirectly called out President Trump’s remark about the American student.

“Americans know the cruelty that was placed on Otto Warmbier by the North Korean regime,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Our hearts are with the Warmbier family for their strength and courage,” she added. “We will never forget Otto.”

Brad Wenstrup

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) chimed in on his disbelief for the president standing in defense of Kim, saying the imprisonment and death were of “heinous crimes at the hands of the brutal Kim Jong Un regime,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“We must never forget this regime’s despicable human rights record, even as we work to denuclearize the country,” Wenstrup added.

Rob Portman

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was one of the officials who attended Warmbier’s memorial service and has not forgotten about what had happened.

“We must remember Otto, and we should never let North Korea off the hook for what they did to him,” Portman said.

Rick Santorum

The former Republican senator and now-CNN political analysis, Rick Santorum, blasted the president’s “reprehensible” comments.

“He gave cover, as you said, to a leader who knew very well what was going on with Otto Warmbier,” Santorum said on CNN. “And again, I don’t understand why the president does this. I am disappointed, to say the least, that he did it.”

Watch the video below:

While Republicans distanced themselves from the president’s comments, top Democrat Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the North Korean leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin “thugs,” and found it “strange” the president chose to believe Kim.

Watch the video below:

When President Trump’s Summit in Vietnam ended short and with no deal on denuclearization, it brought criticism that he had failed in his discussions with Kim, even though the president made it clear he’s optimistic about the long term — but this comment about the American student has drawn bipartisan criticism from President Trump’s press conference.


  1. What no slamming Super O’s complete lack of interest in the boy.

  2. A foreign prisoner, especially an ,is going to stand out. IF he knew of Warmbier Un might have valued him as a propaganda tool.

    It’s possible those torturing and depriving him were afraid to let the Beloved Leader know his pet American was in a coma. One does not lightly bear bad news to someone who orchestrates the assassination of his own brother or dictators in general.

    So yes, it’s possible Un knew nothing.

  3. It’s entirely possible that Un didn’t know anything about Warmbier until after the fact. Possibly he was planning Dennis Rodman’s next visit or watching Sports Center. AND there are SO many prisoners in NK. Who can keep track of them all?

    It’s Rodman’s fault. He should have interceded on Warmbier’s behalf.

    1. Didn’t know about him?

      Kim has already killed about 340 of his own countrymen, including some of his own family!

      Don’t be confused over how a dictator works.

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