WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump planned to have dinner Saturday with the parents of an American college student who died in 2017 shortly after being freed from captivity in North Korea.
An administration official said Trump was to host the parents of Otto Warmbier, who was convicted of trying to steal a propaganda poster while in the North Korea capital and spent 17 months in prison. He died at age 22 just days after being returned to the United States in a vegetative state.
Trump’s ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, was expected to join the dinner. Officials say he is among the 15 candidates Trump is considering to replace ousted national security adviser John Bolton.
By mid-evening Saturday the White House had not confirmed that the dinner had taken place.
Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier of suburban Cincinnati, say their son was tortured in prison. They were angered by Trump’s comments last spring that he took North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “at his word” that he was unaware of any mistreatment of their son.
Trump later tweeted, “Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto’s mistreatment and death.” The tweet made no mention of Kim, with whom Trump is pursuing nuclear talks.
Doctors in Cincinnati said Warmbier had suffered severe brain damage, although they weren’t sure what led to it. North Korea denied mistreating him, saying he fell into a coma that resulted from botulism and a sleeping pill.
A law firm representing the Warmbier family didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.