WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) -The Trump administration believes that Otto Warmbier could have been saved if action had been taken sooner.
The 22-year-old Ohio native died after falling into a coma last year while in a North Korean prison.
When asked if President Trump blamed the Obama administration for Warmbier’s death, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stopped short of blaming the former president.
“The president was pleased that he was able to work with the State Department to get Otto home as soon as he could, but I think when you realize what happened, the president believes that if it had happened sooner or quicker, potentially there might have been additional medical resources that could have been provided. He’s just obviously saddened by this entire situation and just would have hoped it could have been resolved earlier,” Spicer said.
President Donald Trump criticized North Korea for Warmbier’s death.
“It’s a brutal regime,” Trump said. “And we’ll be able to handle it.”
The White House is said to be considering a ban on Americans traveling to North Korea.
The University of Virginia student was accused of trying to take a propaganda poster while touring North Korea. He was detained and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.
Warmbier was believed to have sustained a catastrophic brain injury shortly after his conviction.
He was in a coma when the North Koreans released him in June after serving 18 months in prison.
“A lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents,” Trump said.
Warmbier’s family released a statement saying Otto “was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.”
South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-In will visit the White House next week and he tells CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell that the U.S. needs to be open to negotiations in order to end North Korea’s nuclear program.
“I believe that dialogue is necessary. We were unable to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through only the sanctions and pressure.”
Three other Americans are still being held captive in North Korea.