Trump Accepts Kim’s ‘Word’ That He Was Not Responsible for Otto Warmbier’s Death

President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, June 12, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump on Thursday endorsed Kim Jong-un’s denial of responsibility for the brutal death of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died in 2017 after being released from a North Korean labor camp in a coma.

“Some really bad things happened to Otto — some really really bad things. But [Kim] tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word,” Trump said during a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Warmbier, 22, spent 17 months in captivity after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel in January 2016. He died in June 2017, days after being returned to the U.S. in a coma. His exact cause of death remains unknown.

Trump added that Kim “felt really bad about” the situation but was unaware of Otto’s treatment in the labor camp, where, Trump speculated, he could have been assaulted by another inmate or otherwise harmed.

“I really don’t think it was in his interest at all,” Trump said, suggesting Kim had nothing to gain by killing Warmbier.

The comments came after the long-planned nuclear summit between Trump and Kim collapsed due to an impasse over Kim’s demand that the U.S immediately lift international sanctions in exchange for the closure of one of North Korea’s major nuclear facilities.

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