[Writer's Choice] Trump Denies Paying $2 Million to North Korea for Warmbier's Medical Care
Jay Yim, April 26, 2019, 1:38 p.m.
On Friday, President Donald Trump responded to a report that claimed he had given a $2 million coverage to North Korea for the medical costs for Otto Warmbier, who was an American college student who went into a coma in North Korea and died shortly after being returned home following his 17 month imprisonment in a Pyongyang prison.
Trump tweeted, “No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else.” “This is not the Obama Administration that paid 1.8 Billion Dollars for four hostages, or gave five terroist hostages plus, who soon went back to battle, for traitor Sgt. Bergdahl!”
Trump then tweeted a quote that praised his negotiation skills: “President Donald J. Trump is the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States. 20 hostages, many in impossible circumstances, have been released in last two years. No money was paid.”
He added, “Cheif Hostage Negotiator, USA!", mispelling the world "chief."
Trump said to reporters, "we did not pay money for our great Otto." He added, "there was no money paid. There was a fake news report that money was paid. I haven't paid money for any hostage.... The Otto case was a very unusual case but I just want to let you know no money was paid for Otto."
It should be noted that Trump did not deny he agreed to the bill from North Korea.
On Thursday, however, the Washington Post reported that a $2 million invoice was given to U.S. State Department envoy Joseph Yun hours before Warmbier was flown out of Pyongyang in a coma on June 13, 2017. Six days later, Warmbier died near his parents' home in Ohio.
Trump approved the payment on the invoice, according to the Post, which was sent to the Treasury Department and was unpaid through at least 2017.
After Trump's second summit with Kim, he said that he did not hold the North Korea leader responsible for Warmbier's death.
"I don't believe he would have allowed that to happen," Trump said to reporters in Hanoi. "Those prisons are rough. They're rough places. And bad things happen. I really don't believe - I don't believe he knew about it."
Trump also took credit for the negotiation of the release of Warmbier, who had suffered massive brain injury while he was in custody.
The president defended Kim and said he was not initially aware of Warmbier's deteriorating condition.