Trump walks back comments on Warmbier case, faces fire over Kushner's security clearance

Sunday, March 3, 2019
Trump reverses tone on Warmbier case
President Trump walked back his comments in regard to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's responsibility for the death of Otto Warmbier.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Trump walked back his defense of Kim Jong Un late Friday after accepting that the North Korean dictator didn't know about the torture and imprisonment of American Otto Warmbier.

"I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen," Trump said of Kim after meeting with him earlier this week. "Kim said he didn't know, I take him at his word. He felt badly about it. He knew the case very well, but he knew it later."

Warmbier, 22, was accused of stealing a political poster and was imprisoned for 18 months. He died shortly after returning to the U.S. in a coma.

Warmbier's parents spoke out in a statement, saying "We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto...No excuses or lavish praise can change that."

President Trump later reversed his tone, but still did not call Kim out by name.

"I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family...Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto's mistreatment and death," Trump tweeted.

Last year, Trump got a standing ovation for denouncing Warmbier's brutal treatment at the State of the Union, which was attended by Warmbier's parents.

Trump is also facing fire from House Democrats, who are demanding that the White House turn over memos related to Jared Kushner's top-secret security clearance.

The White House has a Monday deadline to turn over those memos after the New York Times reported that Trump ordered former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to give Kushner clearance despite objections from the CIA and White House Counsel.

Trump's daughter Ivanka denied the allegations.

"The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance. Zero," Ivanka said.