National Security Advisor John Bolton confirmed Sunday that the Trump administration agreed to pay the North Korean regime $2 million as part of a deal to secure the release of American prisoner Otto Warmbier, but never paid the bill.
President Donald Trump denied Friday morning in a tweet that his administration paid the totalitarian country a reported ransom in 2017. The president did not, however, address a report about the $2 million invoice for Warmbier’s medical care.
‘No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else,’ Trump wrote Friday.
But when ‘Fox News Sunday’ host Chris Wallace asked Bolton if Trump’s negotiator, Joseph Yun, and his team agreed to pay, he responded, ‘It appears that they did.’ The agreement was inked before Bolton joined the administration, he said.
Bolton emphasized that the U.S. never paid a dime.
National Security Advisor John Bolton confirmed Sunday that the U.S. agreed to pay North Korea $2 million for Otto Warmbier’s release, but he said no money was ever sent
Warmbier was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster in Pyongyang; he was flown to Ohio in June 2017 after he fell into a coma from unknown causes
‘I think that’s the key point,’ he said. ‘The president has been very successful in getting 20-plus hostages released from imprisonment around the world and hasn’t paid anything for any of them.’
‘No money was paid,’ he said. ‘That is clear.’
Trump on Friday blasted his predecessor for agreeing to a 5-to-1 prisoner release as a condition of the Taliban cutting former Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl loose in 2014, and complained about a separate transaction that saw a 10-figure payout to Iran in an unrelated release of Americans in Tehran’s custody.
‘This is not the Obama Administration that paid 1.8 Billion Dollars for four hostages, or gave five terroist hostages plus, who soon went back to battle, for traitor Sgt. Bergdahl!’ Trump vented on Twitter, misspelling the word ‘terrorist.’
Bolton emphasized on Sunday that no money changed hands, but his statement was the first to confirm that Trump’s negotiator in North Korea agreed to pay what amounts to a ransom
Warmbier mysteriously fell into a coma on the day he was sentenced, and died days after he was released into U.S. custody in 2017
Trump quoted an unnamed American ‘chief hostage negotiator’ in a second tweet to support his contention that he hadn’t paid a ransom for Warmbier.
‘“President Donald J. Trump is the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States. 20 hostages, many in impossible circumstances, have been released in last two years. No money was paid.” Cheif Hostage Negotiator, USA!’ he wrote, misspelling the word ‘chief.’
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders identified the author of the quote for DailyMail.com: ‘His name is Robert O’Brien, the Administration’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.’
The administration has not said who the ’20 hostages’ are.
O’Brien has offered similarly sweeping praise for Trump in the past.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he didn’t pay North Korea for Warmbier’s release, but didn’t rule out the possibility that his State Department was sitting on an unpaid invoice for $2 million payable to Kim Jong-un’s government
Trump and Kim have had two face-to-face meetings including this one, pictured in June 2018
The president followed up with a tweet quoting an unnamed ‘cheif [sic] hostage negotiator’
Warmbier died shortly after returning to his home state. He fell ill while he was in a North Korean detention center after being sentence to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel.
Robert O’Brien, the president’s chief hostage negotiator, offered glowing praise for Trump on Friday, as he has in the past
An Ohio coroner said Warmbier died from a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. Pyongyang blamed botulism and ingestion of a sleeping pill and dismissed torture claims.
Barack Obama was president at the time of Warmbier’s incarceration and his State Department was not successful in freeing him.
Months after Obama left office, North Korea agreed to release the student, who arrived home in a vegetative state, to the Trump administration.
Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, told the Post that he had not been informed about a hospital bill and said it sounded like a ‘ransom’ request for his late son.
Trump tweeted Friday morning that the U.S. did not pay any money for Warmier’s release
Otto’s father, Fred Warmbier, said that he had not been informed about any hospital bill and that it sounded like a ‘ransom’ for his late son
Warmbier traveled to North Korea from China while completing a study abroad program in Hong Kong at the end of 2015, as part of a tour group that included ten other Americans.
The group celebrated New Year’s Eve in Pyongyang, and at some point during the stay, Warmbier took down a propaganda poster from the wall of his hotel that he planned to take home as a souvenir.
He was arrested at Pyongyang airport shortly after, before tearfully confessing on North Korean television six weeks into his detention that he had taken the poster.
A court sentenced Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor for his confessed crime.
The U.S. State Department said at the time that it was evident that North Korea arrested Warmbier to make a political statement.