Former Navy admiral: Trump siding with North Korea 'took my breath away'


Retired Adm. John Kirby slammed Trump for taking North Korea's side over the murder of an American student.

Trump's decision to side with dictator Kim Jong Un over the death of student Otto Warmbier was slammed by retired Navy Adm. John Kirby, who said the betrayal of an American family "took my breath away."

Kirby served for nearly 30 years in the U.S. Navy, going on to serve as a spokesperson for the State Department and as a Pentagon press secretary.

In Hanoi discussing his failed summit with the North Korean leader, Trump was asked about Otto Warmbier, the college student who was imprisoned and beaten leading to his eventual death.

"I really believe something very bad happened to him, and I don't think that the top leadership knew about it," Trump said, parroting North Korean propaganda. Trump said Kim "felt very badly about it", adding, "he tells me that he didn't know about it, and I will take him at his word."

CNN anchor Jim Sciutto noted how Trump's compliment, which runs contrary to findings from U.S. intelligence services, echoed his previous instances of siding with autocrats like Russia's Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman. He then asked Adm. Kirby to react to Trump's chilling comment.

"It kind of took my breath away to listen to that," Kirby replied, "I can't but imagine what it must have been like for Mr. Warmbier's parents and the family to hear him say that."

"It's inexplicable. I don't know why he would just take Kim Jong Un's word."

Kirby also pointed out that when Warmbier was the subject of a show trial by the North Korean regime that footage of the event was shown around the world.

"You've got to assume that Kim Jong Un knew what was going on, and they don't make many decisions in North Korea without Kim Jong Un's awareness and just tacit approval," Kirby added.

Trump showed a "strange credulity" in propping up the dictator, Kirby said, concluding, "it was a real low moment for the press conference today."

Trump is a demagogue with a track record of admiration for the worst impulses of the world's most oppressive leaders. His comments about Warmbier's murder fall right in line with his bizarre world view and Kirby's condemnation encapsulated Trump's abnormal behavior within the presidency.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.