Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to blame Obama for not bringing Otto Warmbier home from North Korea sooner.
“It’s a disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump said to reporters. “It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto.”
“It should never, ever be allowed to happen,” Trump continued. “And frankly, if he were brought home sooner, I think the results would have been a lot different. He should have been brought home that day.”
Trump added that he had spoken with Warmbier’s family.
When asked if Obama had done enough to secure Warmbier’s release during a June 16 press conference, Otto’s father, Fred, echoed Trump’s sentiments saying the results “speak for themselves.”
Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained in March 2016 after North Korean officials accused him of attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour.
US officials negotiated his release earlier this month, though Warmbier was in a coma by the time he arrived in the US. While North Korean officials stated he fell into a coma after contracting botulism, US doctors who examined Warmbier said he suffered severe neurological trauma while in detention and showed no traces of the toxin.
Warmbier passed away at age 22 on Monday.
The White House released a statement on Monday offering Trump and First Lady Melania’s “deepest condolences” to Warmbier’s family.
“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim,” the statement reads.
Warmbier’s family also released a statement on Monday announcing his death.
“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the statement reads. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.”
Warmbier’s funeral is set for 9 a.m. on Thursday at his former high school just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.
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