In a bipartisan move signaling that perhaps politics will once again stop at the water’s edge, President Trump has invited the entire U.S. Senate to the White House for a secure briefing from intelligence and homeland security officials on the threat currently posed by North Korea.
The briefing will include presentations by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Monday.
The move was not only highly unusual, but perhaps a first – a search for whether all 100 senators have ever dropped by the White House turned up nothing.
At least one senator seemed just fine with the venue. “It’s their choice,” Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Reuters. “I hope that we hear their policy as to what their objectives are, and how we can accomplish that hopefully without dropping bombs.”
Trump has so far had icy relations with Congress – including members of his own party. But inviting the entire Senate to the White House could signal a thaw, at least on Trump’s part. And leaders of both parties decry when partisan politics crosses over into national security, so the move will be seen as Trump’s effort to find a united front on North Korea.
The rogue nation is led by dictator Kim Jong Un who has ramped up his belligerent rhetoric of late. U.S. commercial satellite images have “indicated increased activity around North Korea’s nuclear test site, while Kim has said that the country’s preparation for an ICBM launch is in its ‘final stage,'” Fox News reports.
The briefing comes after Trump spoke by phone on Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Xi told Trump that China strongly opposed North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and hoped ‘all parties will exercise restraint and avoid aggravating the situation,’ according to Chinese broadcaster CCTV,” Fox said. “Trump hopes China could increase pressure on its isolated ally instead of using military options or trying to overthrow Kim Jong Un’s regime.”
Trump also told UN Security Council ambassadors on Monday that “the status quo” is not acceptable, and said the council must be ready to impose new sanctions, Reuters reported.