Sanders on skipping WH Korea briefing: 'I did not want to be part of a photo op'

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Ex-Obama campaign manager: Sanders can't beat Trump Booker calls for sweeping voting rights reforms MORE (I-Vt.) says he boycotted a White House briefing on North Korea because he “did not want to be part of a photo opportunity.”

“What I did not want to be is part of a photo opportunity or a political effort on the part of the White House,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Wednesday.

In an unusual move, the White House invited all 100 senators to attend the briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.


Sanders said such briefings are typically held at the Capitol in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) room, which is a specially and securely designed room for highly classified congressional briefings.

“These highly — supposedly — highly classified briefings always take place in what’s called the SCIF room in Congress, which is a very well-designed room to prevent any cybersecurity issues, with security issues in general."

Despite calling for bipartisan efforts to deal with North Korea, Sanders said he declined to be part of the White House “roadshow.”

“The issue of North Korea is enormously important, and we need bipartisan efforts to control North Korea’s very aggressive nuclear efforts, but I did not want to be part of a roadshow for the White House,” he said.

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Senate Dem: Trump 'using immigrants as pawns' Bottom Line MORE (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also called the briefing at the White House an “unusual setting,” adding that he didn't “want to read too much into this.”

The meeting came after the administration said it would take a hardline approach toward the increasingly hostile state amid rising tensions. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsJordan, Meadows press intelligence chief on House Intel Russia probe transcripts Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan Kerry goes after Trump over climate on Capitol Hill MORE, along with other top administration officials, briefed the senators. 

President Trump briefly joined the meeting.