Trump says American student Otto Warmbier's death a 'disgrace,' says he should have been rescued from North Korea sooner

PHOTO: American student Otto Warmbier speaks to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 29, 2016.PlayKim Kwang Hyon/AP/FILE
WATCH Trump calls Otto Warmbier's death 'disgrace,' should have been rescued sooner

President Trump called the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who returned home last week after being detained in North Korea, a "disgrace" Tuesday.

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"I think it's a disgrace what happened to Otto," Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, adding that Warmbier should have been brought home sooner.

Many other politicians and public figures also expressed dismay and outrage.

Warmbier, 22, was in a coma when he was released from North Korea. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center examined him upon his return to Ohio and reported that he had severe brain damage and was in a state of unresponsive wakefulness.

"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died," his parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, wrote in a statement Monday.

"Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible," they said.

The Warmbiers added that they are "at peace" and "at home."

The funeral service for Warmbier will be held on Thursday at Warmbier's alma mater, Wyoming High School in Wyoming, Ohio, and will be open to the public, according to a release from the funeral home.

Many other politicians and public figures have responded to the Warmbiers' announcement, offering their sympathies and condemning the actions of North Korea.

President Trump offered his "deepest" condolences to the family and condemned the "brutality" of the North Korean regime Monday in comments at the start of a meeting with top tech CEOs.

"A lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents," Trump said. "It's a brutal regime, and we'll be able to handle it."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, "This had happened while Mr. Warmbier was in the detention of North Korean authorities ... We cannot know for sure that North Korea killed Mr. Warmbier, but I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr. Warmbier's death."

Former National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price

Ned Price, the former National Security Council spokesperson under President Obama, said the Obama administration worked "through every avenue available" to secure Warmbier's release.

"During the course of the Obama Administration, we had no higher priority than securing the release of Americans detained overseas," Price said. "North Korea’s isolation posed unique challenges, but we worked through every avenue available to us—including through the Swedish, our protecting power, as well as through our representatives in New York—to secure the release of Mr. Warmbier."

Price said those "tireless efforts" resulted in the release of at least 10 Americans who were held in North Korea.

"It's painful that Mr. Warmbier was not among them, but our efforts on his behalf never ceased, even in the waning days of the administration," Price said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Warmbier's family and all who had the blessing of knowing him."

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., took a different approach to the news, calling for a tourist travel ban to North Korea.

"Travel propaganda lures far too many people to North Korea," he said. "The United States should ban tourist travel to North Korea."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that the U.S. holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier's "unjust imprisonment."

Vice President Mike Pence

Sen. John McCain

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Sen. Marco Rubio

The University of Virginia, which Otto Warmbier attended and from which he would have graduated this May, issued a statement Monday.

"It is with great sadness that we learned of Otto's passing this afternoon," University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family and friends during what has been an incredibly difficult time. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam

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