On Monday, the White House announced that it would host an unusual private briefing on North Korea for the entire Senate, prompting questions from lawmakers about whether the Trump administration intends to use the event as a photo op ahead of its 100-day mark.
Sean Spicer told reporters that the lawmakers would be briefed by several senior administration officials Wednesday, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He emphasized that the meeting plan had been convened by Senate leadership and the location would be the White House.
A senior Trump administration official said the meeting with senators will take place in the auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the building next to the White House that houses most of the National Security Council. The auditorium will be temporarily turned into a “sensitive compartmented information facility.” Such facilities are configured to withstand eavesdropping or other technical snooping.
Past administrations have often held briefings for smaller groups of about two dozen or fewer lawmakers in the White House Situation Room. But they have traditionally sent high-level aides to Capitol Hill to hold discussions with larger groups in secure underground locations.
The choice of the unusual location has left the senate befuddled. Off record. one senate aide said “These briefings are always, always, always done in the SCIF up here.” “Does it mean classified information is going to be shared in an unsecured setting? Or that we’re not hearing about classified material?”