Huckabee Sanders to attend Olympics closing ceremony

Huckabee Sanders to attend Olympics closing ceremony
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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will attend the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this weekend, White House officials said.

The White House said that Sanders will join a delegation led by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE's daughter and White House aide Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpDick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Trump Jr. dismisses conflicts of interest, touts projects in Indonesia Ivanka Trump talking to lawmakers about gun reform legislation: report MORE and Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho).

She is scheduled to leave for South Korea on Thursday and will return to Washington next week.

Sanders previously traveled with President Trump on his Asia trip last year, which included a stop in South Korea.

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The White House called Sanders a trusted adviser but noted the delegation was there to support the U.S. teams and affirm the U.S. alliance with South Korea, noting there would not be a meeting with North Korean officials.

An official noted that Sanders is scheduled to cheer on the U.S. team and cheer on the female athletes at the games. 

News of Sanders's plans to attend the closing ceremony comes just a day after it was reported that plans for a meeting between Vice President Pence and top North Korean officials were canceled after North Korea backed out.

“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” Nick Ayers, the vice president’s chief of staff, said in a statement Tuesday.

The meeting reportedly fell through over Pence's remarks about strengthening sanctions against the country.

"We regret [the North Koreans'] failure to seize this opportunity," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. "We will not apologize for American values, for calling attention to human rights abuses, or for mourning a young American’s unjust death," she added, referring to the death of American student Otto Warmbier due to injuries inflicted while in North Korean custody.

Updated at 3:06 p.m.