WASHINGTON – Loading buses much like an elementary school field trip, senators made the short trek down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House for an extraordinary briefing by the Trump administration.
All 100 senators were invited to the closed-door briefing on the threat North Korea poses to the United States. The meeting also outlined military options.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis were among the Trump team who briefed lawmakers, along with other top intelligence officials.
“I think it’s important for both China, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan to realize that the United States has resources and will deploy them and will make every effort to make an appropriate diplomatic resolution to this problem," Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., said after the White House briefing. "But we also stand ready to defend our vital allies with whom we have treaty commitments."
"As the leadership of North Korea speaks and behaves in a more and more aggressive and threatening way, I do think it’s appropriate for us to ensure that we have the resources in the region to defend both the 30,000 American troops on the Korean Peninsula, the nearly 300,000 Americans on the Korean Peninsula, and our vital allies – both South Korea and Japan," Coons continued.
Sources say the same briefing team will share their intelligence with members of the House at the U.S. Capitol later.
The White House confirmed to CBN News that President Trump spent about an hour on the phone with the Chinese President Xi Jinping Sunday night. Mr. Trump also spoke with leaders from Japan and the entire National Security Council.
Although sanctions are the main focus of U.S. strategy, there are signs that the president is considering using military force, if all other options fail to disarm the country.
"The military is obviously planning for a number of contingencies, a number of options as well they should," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
The U.S. has moved an anti-missile defense system into place 150 miles south of Seoul in South Korea. Residents there have protested, worried they'll become a target.
Admiral Harry Harris of the U.S. Pacific Command defended the move in a House committee hearing Wednesday.
"The system is a defensive system that will help protect South Korea from ballistic missile attacks from North Korea," Harris said.
So far, North Korea has remained defiant. It has threatened to sink the USS Carl Vinson and has vowed to continue its missile launches.
"With every test, Kim Jong-Un moves closer to his stated goal of a preemptive nuclear strike capability against American cities," Harris said.
He says Hawaii is clearly vulnerable right now, adding that more may need to be done to protect the island state.