The entire US Senate was bused to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to receive a much-hyped classified briefing on North Korea — but some Senators emerged from the all-hands meeting unimpressed by the content and the “lack of straight answers” they got from administration officials.
“It was an OK briefing,” Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Foreign Relations committee, told reporters afterward.
“What was discussed, I already knew,” Corker said, according to Buzzfeed. “I’m not certain I would have had the briefing today, but I do appreciate — you know, they’ve got a great team that they put together.”
“It’s not like we learned some earth-shaking thing that’s going to happen tomorrow,” Corker added, according to NBC’s Frank Thorp.
Another Republican Senator told the Washington Post’s Congressional reporter Ed O’Keefe that the White House did not offer “even straight answers on what the policy is regarding North Korea and its testing of ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles].”
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told O’Keefe that “there was very little, if anything new.”
“I remain mystified about why the entire Senate had to be taken over to the White House rather than conducting it here [at the Capitol],” Blumenthal added.
On board the bus to the 100 days photo op/North Korea briefing. pic.twitter.com/v3Mg7yqrdX
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 26, 2017
“It was pretty much what you’ve been hearing in the press,” Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen told CNN.
A Democratic Senator told The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, meanwhile, that President Trump briefly appeared at the briefing, and did his “ridiculous adjective bit.”
“There were about 80 sets of invisible eyes rolling,” the Senator said.
“We were not presented with any specific military options,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons told reporters after the briefing, though he noted it had been “sobering.”
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told CNN’s Jim Sciutto that there was “no revelation” during the briefing.
It was “more a chance to convey they’re serious,” Murphy said.
The Senators were briefed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, all of whom were “very sober” in their presentation, another Senator told O’Keefe.
“We were walked through the diplomatic, the economic, and the military aspects of dealing with North Korea, and all of the steps we’re taking to try to prevent that very dangerous situation from getting even worse,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said, according to Buzzfeed.
Tillerson, Mattis, and Coats released a joint statement afterwards reiterating that “North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority.”
They said that Members of Congress were briefed on Wednesday about the “thorough review of US policy pertaining to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)” that Trump began upon assuming office in January.
“The President’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our Allies and regional partners.”
“The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the statement continued. “We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our Allies.”