Speed Reads


Top GOP congressman pushes White House on Trump holding national security talks in Mar-a-Lago's dining room

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) requested more information on Tuesday from the White House about the handling of sensitive information at Mar-a-Lago. The request follows a CNN report on Monday that suggested President Trump discussed how to respond to a North Korean ballistic missile launch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of his private club's dining area.

"As Mar-a-Lago's wealthy members looked on from their tables, and with a keyboard player crooning in the background, Trump and Abe's evening meal quickly morphed into a strategy session, the decision-making on full view to fellow diners, who described it in detail to CNN," the network reported.

In his press briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer dismissed such reports. "Just to be clear, the president was briefed in a SCIF ahead of dinner," Spicer said, referring to a "sensitive compartmented information facility," where confidential reports can be discussed. "He went with his national security team. They briefed him on the situation in North Korea. Subsequently he had a dinner, which was attended exclusively by U.S. and Japanese delegation members."

Chaffetz's letter refers also to the resort's public dining area, citing accounts and photos from other diners that "seem to indicate" communications about the North Korea missile launch "occurred in the presence of other guests."

While Chaffetz acknowledges Spicer's defense, he wrote: "Nevertheless, discussions with foreign leaders regarding international missile tests, and documents used to support those discussions, are presumptively sensitive. While the president is always on duty, and cannot dictate the timing of when he needs to receive sensitive information about urgent matters, we hope the White House will cooperate in providing the committee with additional information."

Read the full request below. Jeva Lange