President Trump, on Monday, defended his decision to keep some top congressional Democrats out of the loop before the U.S. strike on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying the mission was too important to risk.
Trump, on Sunday, said he did not notify some members of Congress — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and senior Democrats on the committees currently working to impeach him, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — about a raid because he was worried about leaks.
Trump, on Monday, repeated his charge.
“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 on Monday. “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.”
Pelosi, on Sunday, demanded that Trump brief the House on the 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,” she said in a statement. “Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington.”
Pelosi also downplayed the significance of taking out the top ISIS leader.
“The death of al-Baghdadi is significant, but the death of this ISIS leader does not mean the death of ISIS. Scores of ISIS fighters remain under uncertain conditions in Syrian prisons, and countless others in the region and around the world remain intent on spreading their influence and committing acts of terror,” she said.
On Sunday, Trump said of congressional leaders, “We notified some [and] others are being notified now as I speak.”
“We were going to notify them last night, but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before,” Trump said. “There’s no country in the world that leaks like we do, and Washington is a leaking machine.”
Trump added that the “only people that knew were the few people that I dealt with … A leak could have caused the death of all of them.”
“I told my people we will not notify them until our great people are out — not just in but out,” Trump added. “I wanted to make sure this was kept secret. I don’t want to have men lost and women. I don’t want to have people lost.”
Schiff told ABC News’ “This Week”, on Sunday, that Trump had made a “mistake” by not notifying the congressional “Gang of Eight,” made up of the top Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate intelligence committee as well as leaders from both parties.
“In terms of notifying the Gang of Eight, that wasn’t done. Look, the reason to notify the Gang of Eight is frankly more important when things go wrong. If — the president said it was dangerous flying in. The Russians could have shot down American planes,” Schiff said.
“Had this escalated, had something gone wrong, had we gotten into a firefight with the Russians, it’s to the administration’s advantage to be able to say, ‘We informed Congress we were going in, they were aware of the risks. We at least gave them the chance to provide feedback.’ That wasn’t done here. I think that’s a mistake,” the California Democrat said.