President Donald Trump defended his decision not to notify Democratic congressional leaders of his plans of the raid that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying that he was afraid that the details of the rid would be leaked and compromise the operation.
When the president announced the death of al-Baghdadi Sunday morning, he also announced that he made the decision not to tell officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because of his concerns that leaks might compromise the mission. He told reporters Monday morning that the focus of his concerns was not really Pelosi, but House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, (D-CA), who he considers to be corrupt.
“The only thing is they were talking about why didn’t I give the information to Adam Schiff and his committee, and the answer is because I think Adam Schiff is the biggest leaker in Washington,” Trump said. “You know that, I know that, we all know that. I’ve watched Adam Schiff leak. He’s a corrupt politician. He’s a leaker like nobody has ever seen before.”
Trump also went on to criticize Schiff’s handling of the impeachment investigation, including accusing him of committing a “criminal act” by stating an inaccurate version of the Ukrainian phone call on the record.
The president’s decision not to notify senior members of Congress of his intent to raid was controversial, as much of his actions seem to be, even as he drew praise for overseeing the successful mission.
“The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region,” Pelosi said after hearing of the raid Sunday. “Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington.”
When Trump was asked on Sunday if he had notified Pelosi about the raid in advance, the president said he did not because he did not want any members of the U.S. forces to die.
“No, I didn’t. I didn’t do that. I wanted to make sure this kept secret,” Trump said. “I don’t want to have people lost.”
Vice President Mike Pence told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump did not mean to say he did not trust the House speaker, and reminded them about how important security is for our country.
“I don’t think that was the implication at all,” Pence said. “We maintain the tightest possible security here,” and reminded the reporter that Trump’s goal was to bring al-Baghdadi to justice and that security was of the utmost importance.
Trump on Sunday described to the public how U.S. forces, which included military dogs, chased al-Baghdadi into a tunnel in Syria. The ISIS leader was “whimpering and crying” before detonating a suicide vest, killing himself and three innocent children.
“He died like a coward,” Trump said.