Rep. Chris Stewart said it was “extraordinarily unlikely” that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not know about the treatment of American Otto Warmbier that lead to his death, directly disputing President Donald Trump’s statements last week.
Trump defended Kim, saying the North Korean leader was not responsible for Warmbier’s treatment during his captivity. Warmbier suffered massive brain damage and was in a coma when he was liberated into U.S. custody in 2017. He died a short time later.
“He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word,” said Trump following the collapse of his summit meeting with Kim.
Stewart rebuked Trump’s comments during an appearance on CNN.
“This was an absolute murder. It’s torture and murder,” said Stewart. “I think it is extraordinarily unlikely Kim Jong Un was holding one of the very few Americans and he wasn’t aware of that person or aware of his treatment and his conditions.”
Stewart says he understands that President Trump is trying to foster a relationship with the North Korean leader in order to get rid of the nuclear weapons threat posed by North Korea, but he said North Korea must be held responsible for Warmbier’s death.
“I understand the president is trying to develop a relationship with Kim Jong Un, but at the same time, we can’t turn a blind eye to how this young man was treated. The North Korean’s tortured and murdered this person.”