Santorum Calls Trump Defense Of Kim Over Warmbier’s Death ‘Reprehensible’

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February 28, 2019 9:53 a.m.

President Trump taking North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “at his word” over the death of American student Otto Warmbier is “reprehensible,” according to Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and a staunch supporter of Trump’s policies.

“This is reprehensible what he just did,” he told CNN Thursday. “He gave cover, as you said, to a leader who knew very well what was going on with Otto Warmbier and I again, I don’t understand why the President did this. I am disappointed, to say the least, that he did it.”

During a press conference on Thursday — when Trump announced he was walking away from a possible denuclearization compromise with North Korea — Trump told reporters that he believed Kim when he told him that he didn’t know about the torture of Warmbier, an American student who was arrested and held in North Korea for a year and a half for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster. Warmbier was finally returned to the U.S. in 2017, but he died upon arrival. Doctors say he was in a coma for more than a year.

Trump’s defense of Kim’s knowledge of Warmbier’s treatment is befuddling given the public nature of Warmbier’s case. The college student was even forced to hold a press conference to beg for his freedom after he was arrested.

Some critics are comparing Trump’s defense of Kim to him siding with other foreign adversaries in their denials of knowledge of atrocities carried out by their own government. Trump has repeatedly said he believes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was not aware of the torture, murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which was carried out by high level Saudi officials.

The comments also drew parallels to a certain press conference in Helsinki, when Trump infamously accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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