North Korea

North Korea Killed an American and Trump Agreed to Pay For It

Written by SK Ashby

A 21-year-old American college student from the University of Virginia, Otto Warmbier, was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to hard labor in one of North Korea's infamous camps in 2016 only to be flown home in a comatose state in 2017.

We still don't know exactly what the North Koreans did to him and we probably never will, but the Washington Post reported yesterday evening that Trump personally signed off on a deal to pay North Korea for Warmbier's release just before his death.

BEIJING — North Korea issued a $2 million bill for the hospital care of comatose American Otto Warmbier, insisting that a U.S. official sign a pledge to pay it before being allowed to fly the University of Virginia student home from Pyongyang in 2017. [...]

[The] main U.S. envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from President Trump, according to two people familiar with the situation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

I believe only the family of Warmbier can say whether this was worth it or not (Warmbier's father, who spoke to the Washington Post, said it sounded like a "ransom") but I will say that if the Obama administration or any other Democratic president did this, we wouldn't hear the end of it in a million years.

Trump and right wing media have long criticized the Obama administration for returning Iran's own money to them (which we withheld for literally decades) as part of the nuclear peace deal, but this was an agreement to pay North Korea in American dollars for the release of a dying hostage.

The Washington Post reported that it's not clear if the Treasury ever paid the $2 million, but they do speculate that it could have been arranged before either of Trump's summits with Kim Jong-un.

Trump himself says his regime has not paid the bill, but I'm not necessarily prepared to take his word for it.

With all of that said, it would certainly be in character for Trump to stiff someone on a bill he agreed to pay.