It’s pretty rare for the White House to invite the entire Senate–100 senators–to receive a briefing by senior administration officials on one specific topic. From Reuters:
All 100 senators have been asked to the White House for the briefing 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.
Something’s cooking here. It’s notable that Gen. Dunford is one of the briefers. You don’t bring in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs unless some military options are being kicked around.
Of course, like the USS Carl Vinson tail-wagging-the-dog, this could be another “show of strength” for Kim Jong Un. The North Korean government and its decisions have long been inscrutable and opaque for western intelligence. Trump may simply be giving Kim a run for his money, forcing him to try and parse Trump’s next move from a sea of unpredictable feints and threats.
This is typically not the way America does business in foreign relations, but Trump indicated that he never plans to telegraph his moves (except to the Russians and Syrian government when we launch cruise missiles).
By inviting the entire Senate, Trump guarantees two things: (1) Democrats can’t claim that whatever Trump does, they weren’t informed; and (2) if there are leaks, it’s almost certain the leaks will contain what the administration wants to be leaked. So this could be a feint for the Norks, it could be some tremendous intelligence on Kim’s capabilities and intentions, or it could be a real prelude to action.
Aides said they were working with the White House to schedule a similar briefing for the House of Representatives.
Although Reuters reported an unnamed “senior administration official” said this briefing was “not a part of something choreographed,” and cautioned against over-interpretation, it’s likely this briefing, and any followup with the House, is very much choreographed to send a very specific message to very specific people.
North Korea may be an infected zit on the face of western civilization, but letting it become nuclear and ICBM-capable is just plain stupid.