Having angered even his most important advisor, Fox News, President Trump is reversing course on his recent comments about Otto Warmbier.
Trump tweeted out his new position on Friday afternoon after enduring a day of people, most notably Warmbier’s parents, criticizing his remarks that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had told him “he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word” regarding the still-mysterious circumstances that led to Warmbier’s death after 17 months in North Korea’s custody:
….for Otto’s mistreatment and death. Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain. Otto and his family have become a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength, which will last for many years into the future. I love Otto and think of him often!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2019
The quotes in these tweets are beyond odd, as befits the situation whenever Trump speaks off the top of his head:
“I never like being misinterpreted.”
Trump said that Kim, a dictator whose entire nation revolves around worship of his greatness, “didn’t know” about what happened to Warmbier at some point after he was sentenced to ten years in a labor camp for tearing down a propaganda poster, adding “I don’t believe he [Kim] would have allowed that to happen.” Hard to see what is being misinterpreted there.
“The previous administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch.”
This is a typical Trump move, to grudgingly apologize while also trying to pin blame for the entire situation on someone else entirely. And while it’s true that the North Koreans did free three Americans along with Warmbier, two of them had been arrested after Trump took office. The previous administration had managed to free eleven others while Obama was in office.
“Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain.”
This is the strangest comment of all. For what cause did Warmbier die? If it was for the two summits that elevated Kim to a position on the world stage, earning him notice and prestige while getting to keep his nuclear weapons program, then it does not seem as if Warmbier’s death was a positive for the United States.
It is an odd and grudging apology from a man who rarely admits to mistakes.