Washington – Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy on Wednesday joined all of their Senate colleagues on a bus to the White House for a classified briefing on North Korea, but they and other senators from both parties said they left without learning much new.
“While we weren’t presented with any new information today, it’s clear that North Korea is a serious threat that must be dealt with immediately,” said Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Murphy said ending the threat posed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who “wants a nuclear weapon, and he wants to put it on a ballistic missile that can reach the United States,” is a national security priority.
“Unfortunately, the inconsistent and bellicose rhetoric from the Trump administration isn’t helpful, and it risks a miscalculation by either side that would cost lives and potentially lead to war,” said Murphy, one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s foreign policy in Congress.
Although he said he left the White House “still questioning whether the administration has a workable plan,” Murphy said he’s willing to work with the Trump administration on a solution.
Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “There was almost nothing new (at the briefing), and I am perplexed as to why the entire Senate was taken there for a briefing that could have easily been done” at the Capitol.
The senators were briefed in a secure room at the White House by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led the session. But they did not say whether the United States is considering military options against North Korea after the communist nation conducted recent weapons tests and military activities.
President Donald Trump also briefly attended the meeting.
The issue of how to handle North Korea’s nuclear ambitions has been a hot topic in Congress this week as it reconvened after its Easter break.
Blumenthal said he would press for more information from the Trump administration. “There are questions as to our strategy and policy relating to North Korea that need to be answered,” he said.