President Trump may be letting Kim Jong Un personally off the hook for the death of Otto Warmbier, but Warmbier's parents are not. “We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out,” said Fred and Cindy Warmbier in a short statement, per ABC News. “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuse or lavish praise can change that.” The statement comes after Trump said he spoke to the North Korean leader and came away believing that Kim didn't know about Warmbier's treatment. "I will take him at his word," said the president.
Trump was previously seen as an ally of Warmbier's parents, who received a standing ovation during the president's 2018 State of the Union address. "You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all," Trump told them, per CBS News, after noting "the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America … horribly injured and on the verge of death." Earlier this week, Trump referred to the North Korean leader as his friend. "He likes me. I like him," he added in an interview with Sean Hannity. "Some people say, oh, you shouldn't like him. I said, why shouldn't I like him?" (Some Republicans also split with Trump on the Warmbier issue.)