"We were respectful during this summit, and now we have to speak out: Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son, Otto." Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity, no apologies or lavish praise Thank you. "Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Otto's parents, said in a statement provided to CNN.
After a second summit with Kim in Vietnam, President Trump said on Thursday that he did not blame the North Korean dictator for the death of Warmbier.
"He tells me that he did not know about it and I will take him to his word," Trump said during a press conference, also claiming that Kim "felt very bad, but he knew the case very well, but he knew it it later. "
Advisor to President Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Friday, "Trump agrees with the Warmbier family and blames North Korea for the death of Otto Warmbier."
"(Trump) of course blames North Korea, he has deep affection and shares mourning with the Warmbier family," Conway said in an interview in "America's Newsroom" by Fox News. He later added, "The President says there is no indication that Chairman Kim knew what was happening to Otto Warmbier when it happened."
Thursday's press conference in Vietnam, Trump told reporters he partly believed Kim's refusal, because it would not be in Kim's interest for Warmbier to end up in a coma.
"I do not think the top leadership knew about it," Trump said. "I do not think he (Kim) would have allowed that."
"I think they are an incredible family," Trump said of the warmbiers. "What happens is terrible, I really think something bad has happened (Otto Warmbier), and I really do not think the top leadership knew about it."
Some republican legislators and even a former high-ranking member of Trump's national security team pushed back against the president's remarks.
"The Americans are aware of the cruelty that Otto Warmbier has caused by the North Korean regime," tweeted Nikki Haley, Trump's former Ambassador to the United Nations. "Our heart is with the Warmbier family for their strength and courage, we will never forget Otto."
The Republican Senator from Ohio, Rob Portman, whose members include the Warmbiers, warned in a speech in the Senate: "We can not be naive, what they did with Otto, with the brutal nature of the regime, this to an American citizen.
Susan Collins, a Maine Republican Senator on the intelligence committee, expressed her disbelief at the idea that Kim did not know the status of hot beer.
"I obviously do not know what the conversation entailed, and I also do not know if Kim Jong Un has provided specific evidence to support this statement, "Collins told CNN," Personally, I find this statement extremely hard to believe. "
Trump's whitewash ignored the strict control that Kim, as his supreme leader, keeps his country's internal affairs in mind, especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as the detention of an American citizen.
Kim oversees one of the most repressive regimes in the world, according to human rights groups, concentration camps, starvation, and medical experiments The United Nations estimates that North Korea has between 80,000 and 120,000 people
The President's remarks were also the most recent example in which he accepted the refusal of an autocratic leader like Kim at face value.
Trump has repeatedly shown his willingness to dispel unbelief when it comes to strongmen, including the assumption that Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad bin Salman has rejected the willful murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Russian President Vladimir Putin with the US Presidential elections in 2016, although the US secret services have decided otherwise.
This story has been updated.
Nicole Gaouette, David Shortell and Anisa Husain of CNN have contributed to this report.