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Trump: I take Kim Jong-un at his word on Otto Warmbier's treatment

President Trump says North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un only learned about Otto Warmbier's death after the event.
Photo: Xinhua/Lu Rui via Getty Images

President Trump said early Thursday North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un "felt very badly" about the death of Otto Warmbier and only learned of what happened to the U.S. student afterward.

Details: Trump said after his summit with Kim he took him "at his word" when asked about Warmbier, who was allegedly tortured by North Korean officials while in prison for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster. Warmbier died after he was returned to the U.S. in 2017 in a vegetative state.

  • “I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen," Trump said of Kim. "I don’t believe he knew about it. He felt very badly about it, I did speak to him, he knew about it, but he knew about it after ... Big country, a lot of people in those prisons and the camps, there are some bad people."

The big picture: Commentators likened Trump's remarks to previous expressions of admiration for political strongmen including Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.