Jun 12, 2018, 7:00 PM ET

Trump says summit would not have happened without Otto Warmbier's death


Just hours after intense and historic negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump predicted it all might never have happened if it weren't for the death of Otto Warmbier, the American college student imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months.

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Asked at a post-summit news conference how he could call the North Korean dictator "talented" since Kim was responsible for Warmbier’s death, Trump responded: “I think without Otto this would not have happened. Something happened from that day, it was a terrible thing. It was brutal. But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on including North Korea.”

“I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain. I told this to his parents. A special young man and I have to say special parents, special people. Otto did not die in vain. He had a lot to do with us being here today.”

PHOTO: American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, on March 16, 2016.Jon Chol Jin/AP
American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, on March 16, 2016.

In a statement later Tuesday, Warmbier’s parents thanked the president for his comments in Singapore.

“We appreciate President Trump's recent comments about our family. We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully something positive can come from this,’ Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement.

In April, his parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against North Korea, charging that the regime tortured and murdered their son.

PHOTO: The parents of Otto Warmbier react to a standing ovation during State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, FILE
The parents of Otto Warmbier react to a standing ovation during State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018.

Trump often invokes Warmbier’s plight when commenting on his administration's approach to North Korea.

Otto Warmbier's parents were guests of the president and first lady at the State of the Union, where Trump described the "depraved character" of the North Korean regime and pledged to "honor Otto's memory with American resolve."

Prior to North Korea’s release of the three American prisoners last month, Trump used Warmbier to appear confident they would return.

“They do have 3 prisoners. We have been talking about them. They’ve been there a long time. It’s harsh treatment. We fought very hard to get Otto Warmbier back," Trump said in April prior to their release.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old who attended the University of Virginia, was evacuated to a medical center in Cincinnati in an unresponsive state on July 13, 2017, after close to a year and a half in captivity.

He was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from a restricted area while visiting the country on a sightseeing tour. After a one-hour trial in March 2016, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

News - Trump says summit would not have happened without Otto Warmbier's death

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  • b rubble

    Trump the day before:
    "Otto’s fate deepens my administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency,” he continued. “The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”

    The next day pressed by Fox New's Brett Baier in an interview about Kim's oppression of his own people, Trump said:
    Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done."

    “I don’t care who you are, what you are, what kind of advantage you have,” Trump said of Kim, whose family has controlled North Korea since its creation. “If you can do that at 27 years old, you, I mean, that's one in 10,000 that can do that.”
    Piece of @#@

  • fmd160

    Trump will use anyone or anything to stroke his ego. Never mind who he hurts or derides in the process.

  • Bronx

    Trump lies about everything so.....

  • arriba65

    From "depraved character" to "honorable" and "special bond with Kim".

  • TexasVulcan

    Warmbier did not die in vain. He died in Ohio.

  • Robin

    just let Otto rest in peace. no politics with his name.

  • Personal

    I feel so sorry for those parents and would not ever want to take away any comfort they may get from this or anything else, but it sickens me to see Trump use that Young man’s murder as a way to justify an alliance with the man responsible.

  • Ray

    So, Otto Warmbeir was great. One of the greatest men of our century! And Kim Jong Un is great! A great, great man who I really do trust. This summit was the greatest summit in the history of mankind! So many great, great things are happening!

  • FfloydZzepp

    Kim played trump like a banjo.

  • What's our vector Victor

    Any president could of shook hands with Kim. But only the smart ones understood it would of lead to nothing.

  • Omar Majiet

    Trumps afraid of the big black wolf.

  • Nearl45 61

    Thank God Otto died to give our great Leader a new coat made from human skin and a Nobel prize.

    I mean that’s basically the message isn’t it? Otto sacrificed himself (unknowingly) to give us a chance to suck up to an oppressive dictator.

  • quasi_anyon

    The mtg is a direct result of John Kerry's diligence as US Sec of State (I was there). Unfortunately, Little Donny John and Pagan Pence, their kakistocracy, created a huge missed opportunity yesterday (great, really great mistake), instead turning the event into a marketing occassion.

    Little Donny John saying , "it is an honor" to the NK dictator, while telling our key ally, Canada, to go to he||.

    While civil dialogue with NK is good, Little Donny John and Pagan Pence caved to NK. America lost world stature yesterday because Little Donny John and Pagan Pence have no idea what they are doing. Create a kakistocracy, then what!?!

    It was bad news for Americans; thank Dotard.

  • b rubble

    Trump betrayed South Korea and Japan by giving North Korea, China and Russia what they wanted all along by ending joint U.S. military exercises in the region and also removing a U.S. presence in the Region.

  • Stephen Bishop

    Nkor was no threat until Trump came on the scene and started shooting off his big mouth, and now he claims he's responsible for World peace? Give me a break!!!!

  • Stephen Bishop

    "By the way, Kim, here's the blueprints for a Trump Tower in your country"

  • b rubble

    tRump and the Republicans thinks he deserves a Nobel for embracing murderous human rights violators?

  • b rubble

    Trump - I can use these hostages to my advantage.

  • Stephen Bishop

    "Dear Kim, thank you for beating our college student to death, and I loved how you killed your Uncle with an anti-aircraft gun, and the worms in that defector were amazing. Keep up the good work. Your loving admirer, Donald"

  • Pat Baxter

    Talk about Trump relative to a Nobel is entirely ludicrous. Thankfully Trump's disgusting mouth didn't get us all killed before the two Koreas could come together at the Pyeongchang XXIII Olympic Winter Games. In an extraordinary show of unity, North and South Korea sat side-by-side. It was hoped by all involved in those Olympics that reunification could happen This represented a hope for peace and unity and Trump had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Any fool, (such as Trump) can befriend a despot dictator (as Trump did).

  • Alex

    Still trying to figure out how Trump managed to give North Korea such a high profile summit without preconditions and then let North Korea demand the US give precondition for any future talks. Trump left that summit with absolutely NOTHING from North Korea, despite giving them the concessions they demanded of us. Trump is making the United States weaker by the day.