Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is heading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, said he was not told about the raid that left ISIS terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead on Saturday.
Schiff, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News that he wasn’t told about the operation. Hours before, Trump said in a press conference that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other officials were not told due to potential leaks that could have imperiled the lives of American soldiers.
“My understanding [Pelosi] wasn’t [told]. But a couple of things, first of all, good riddance. [Al-Baghdadi] was a blood thirsty killer to the degree that he retained operational control of ISIS,” Schiff told the broadcaster. “This is an operational success, this is a symbolic victory. He had the blood of thousands and thousands of people on his hands, including many Americans and American journalists. So, this a great day, a ruthless killer has been brought to Justice. ”
Schiff said that the so-called gang of eight, which includes leaders in Congress from both the Democrats and Republicans, weren’t told ahead of time.
“In terms of notifying the Gang of 8, that wasn’t done,” he said.
In his press conference, Trump said that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) were told the operation after it was completed.
Regarding the others, “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,” he remarked. “I told my people we will not notify them until our great people are out—not just in but out,” the president added.
Trump said he wanted to make sure the raid was a well-kept secret.
“I don’t want to have men lost and women. I don’t want to have people lost,” he said, adding that a “leak could have caused the death of all of them.”
No American lives were lost in the mission, although a military dog was injured, Trump said.
“Baghdadi and the losers who worked for him, and losers they are, they had no idea what they were getting into. In some cases, they were very frightened puppies,” Trump announced. “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America.”
He described a daring nighttime airborne raid by U.S. special operations forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, saying they flew over heavily militarized territory controlled by multiple nations and military forces.
As American forces approached al-Baghdadi he fled into a “dead-end” tunnel with three of his children, the president said, before he detonated a suicide vest. He killed himself and the children.
Trump then thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, as well as Kurdish fighters in Syria after the mission was over.
Weeks before the raid, the United States had obtained intelligence on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts, Trump said.
When the raid commenced, the president said he watched the operation from the White House as it played live “as though you were watching a movie.” He suggested that the video might be released in the future to deter future terrorists.
In the Sunday national address, Trump suggested that the death of al-Baghdadi was a more significant moment than the Navy SEAL raid to kill Osama bin Laden, the former al-Qaeda terrorist leader.
“Baghdadi’s demise demonstrates America’s relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders,” the president said. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.”