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Otto Warmbier in Pyongyang on Feb. 29, 2016. Photo: Xinhua/Lu Rui via Getty Images

North Korea issued the U.S. a $2 million hospital bill before releasing then-comatose American student Otto Warmbier, according to 2 anonymous sources familiar with the situation who spoke to the Washington Post's Anna Fifield.

The bottom line: President Trump reportedly ordered a U.S. envoy tasked with retrieving Warmbier to sign an agreement to pay the medical bill, but it remains unclear if the administration actually paid it, or if it was a matter of discussion during the 2 summits between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The bill reportedly remained with the Treasury Department through 2017.

The backdrop: Warmbier was detained in North Korea for 17 months and died in 2017 shortly after being flown back to the U.S. in a comatose state. North Korea attributed Warmbier's poor health and subsequent death to botulism, but doctors found no evidence to corroborate those claims. A federal judge ordered North Korea to pay Warmbier's family $501 million in a wrongful death lawsuit last year.

  • The Warmbiers have said they hold Kim responsible for the death of their son, but earlier this year, Trump said he takes the North Korean leader "at his word" when asked about incident.
  • The White House declined to comment on this story, per the Post.

Go deeper: Otto Warmbier dies after detainment in North Korea

Go deeper

42 mins ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

2 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.