Donald Trump invited all 100 members of the U.S. Senate to attend a classified briefing at 3p.m. today, bussing the lawmakers from Capitol Hill to the White House to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Senators from both sides of the aisle said the president discussed issues they were already aware of from the press.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) told CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front” that lawmakers “learned nothing [about North Korea] you couldn’t read in the newspaper.”
“Why do you think he had you come to the White House for this?” Burnett asked.
“Oh, complete optics,” Merkley said. “Giving him a chance to say he considers it important enough to have us come to the White house.”
“So we learned nothing you couldn’t read in a newspaper.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley on the North Korea meeting at the WH: “We learned nothing you couldn’t read in the newspaper” https://t.co/JZD5Zw4xOx
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 26, 2017
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) told Anderson Cooper that the only thing Trump’s field trip accomplished was “putting 100 people on three buses and tying up traffic in Washington D.C.”
“I seriously felt like I could have gotten all that information by reading a newspaper,” Duckworth said, adding she felt the whole charade was a “dog and pony show.”
“It’s quite remarkable that they bussed 100 senators over there, and the very same team that briefed us came back to the Capitol to brief the 400+ members of Congress,” Duckworth explained, adding, “there wasn’t anything new in their briefing either”
“They successfully accomplished putting 100 people on three buses and tying up traffic in Washington D.C,” Duckworth said.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters “it was an OK briefing.”
— T. Fisher King (@T_FisherKing) April 27, 2017
And now, a Q&A w/ Sen. Corker on N. Korea briefing:
How was it? "Not sure I would have done it"
Why? "I don't know"
Too many ppl? "Nope"
— Matt Flegenheimer (@mattfleg) April 26, 2017
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told CNN he had been “heavily briefed before” and “didn’t hear anything new.”
One unnamed Republican senator told the Washington Post that senators did not get “straight answers on what the policy is regarding North Korea” during the briefing.
“Several senators asked specifically, ‘What is the policy?’ and the briefers gave us very, very few details,” the senator said.
“There was very little, if anything new,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told the Washington Post. “I remain mystified about why the entire Senate had to be taken over to the White House rather than conducting it here.”