President Trump said Thursday morning that "no money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier," after news broke Thursday that North Korean officials handed a U.S. envoy a $2 million bill for the now-late student's medical bills in 2017.
CBS News reported Thursday thatto U.S. envoy to North Korea Joseph Yun when he arrived to transport Warmbier back to the United States. Sources tell CBS News the U.S. signed for the bill, but had no intention of paying it.
The president insisted he never paid North Korea, before blasting former President Barack Obama.
"No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else," the president tweeted Friday morning. "This is not the Obama Administration that paid 1.8 Billion Dollars for four hostages, or gave five terroist [sic] hostages plus, who soon went back to battle, for traitor Sgt. Bergdahl!"
He then went on to quote an unnamed U.S. negotiator, tweeting, "'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.'"
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed to CBS News' Fin Gomez that the president was referring to Robert O'Brien, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department, although the president's quote does not appear to be verbatim.
Mr. Trump has spoken of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with glowing terms since Warmbier's death, saying Kim sent him "love letters" and praising the North Korean dictator's leadership skills. In his unsuccessful trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, the president claimed Kim was unaware of Warmbier's situation, and he took Kim at his word.
"He tells me he didn't know about it, and I take him at his word," the president said at a press conference in Hanoi in February.