If President Trump truly believes Kim Jong Un was unaware of the "really really bad things" that happened to Otto Warmbier in North Korea, then he's been sold a massive lie, according to Bill Richardson. "It is inconceivable that [with] such a high-profile American prisoner like Otto Warmbier, that Kim Jong Un would not know," the former US Ambassador to the UN told CNBC on Thursday, per NBC News. "It is totally impossible." Warmbier, 22, was imprisoned in North Korea in 2016 on accusations that he stole a poster. He died within days of his release into US custody some 17 months later. "Some really bad things happened to Otto," but "I don't believe [Kim] knew about it … He tells me that he didn't know about it," Trump said at a Thursday press conference, per CBS News, adding it "wasn't to his advantage to let that happen."
An apparent rebuke came hours later from Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who represents Warmbier's home state of Ohio. "We should never let North Korea off the hook for what they did to him," he said, per the Hill. "The blood of Otto Warmbier is on the hands of Kim Jong Un. There is no doubt in my mind that he knew about it, he allowed it to happen," added Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, per NBC. On CNN, Richardson said Trump's decision to take Kim at his word is "almost a human rights violation. The president "should know better. And what should happen is a full accounting," he said. But Victor Cha, former director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, isn't so sure Kim is lying. "It is possible that low-level guys could have done something to [Warmbier], and they were afraid to send the information up," he said, per NBC. (Read more Otto Warmbier stories.)