Team Obama called a meeting with 14 Senators at the White House on Tuesday to discuss foreign policy. The AP reports on the meeting through the eyes of Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee:
White House officials have been holding private meetings this week aimed at soothing lawmakers’ concerns over the U.S. posture in Syria, the future of the American military presence in Afghanistan and defense spending. The meetings come as a frustrated White House seeks to push back at criticism of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
But the White House outreach appeared to be having little effect on some lawmakers’ concerns.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described Tuesday night’s White House meeting with chief of staff Denis McDonough and national security adviser Susan Rice as “one of the most bizarre I’ve attended.”
Another senator who attended the meeting said Obama’s advisers refused to provide lawmakers with answers about whether the president plans to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the war formally concludes later this year or about the Pentagon’s efforts to find nearly 300 kidnapped Nigerian school girls.
Unsatisfied, some of the lawmakers started to leave one by one before the meeting had finished. The senator and three congressional aides briefed on the meeting insisted on anonymity to discuss the private talks.
The meeting was one of several held with members of Congress last week. President Obama, it turns out, was otherwise engaged. Keith Koffler comments at his White House Dossier site: “This is the only White House I’ve covered where senior senators go to the West Wing to meet with staff, not the president. The White House thinks it’s repairing relations with Congress – finally – but it’s actually insulting lawmakers instead.”