Trump did not brief Pelosi and other top congressional leaders on Baghdadi raid

Key Points
  • President Trump said on Sunday that he did not brief Pelosi and other leaders about the raid which lead to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 
  • Trump said he was afraid of leaks, though Pelosi and Adam Schiff, both members of the "Gang of 8," are running Trump's impeachment inquiry.
  • Trump said he informed Russia the U.S. was moving through its airspace but did not tell them why.
U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement at the White House following reports that U.S. forces attacked Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria, in Washington, U.S., October 27, 2019.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

President Donald Trump said Sunday he did not brief House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top congressional leaders on the raid that resulted in the death Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi due to concern information would leak and put people's lives at risk.

"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 nothing -- there's no country in the world that leaks like we do. And Washington is a leaking machine. And I told my people we will not notify them until the -- our great people are out. Not just in, but out. I don't want to have them greeted with firepower like you wouldn't believe."

Trump did speak with Republican Senators Richard Burr and Lindsay Graham. Trump said Graham has "been very much involved in this subject" and that he spoke with Burr Sunday morning.

House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said he and the so-called Gang of 8 were not briefed on the raid. The Gang of 8 is a group of top congressional leaders that the executive branch briefs on classified intelligence.

"In terms of notifying the Gang of 8, that wasn't done," Schiff told ABC's "This Week." Sen. Burr, whom Trump spoke with Sunday, is a member of the group.

In addition to Schiff and Burr, the group includes Devin Nunes, R-Calif.; Mark Warner, D-Virginia; Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky and Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

In a statement published on the House Speaker's website, Pelosi saluted "the heroism, dedication and skill of our military and our intelligence professionals," but she said the president must brief congressional leadership on the raid.

"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. "Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington."

Relations between Trump and the Democrat-controlled House are tense as Schiff and Pelosi lead an impeachment inquiry into the president, which centers on whether Trump abused his power in deciding to withhold aid from Ukraine.

Trump suggested during a press conference on Sunday morning that Russia was notified because U.S. forces flew through its airspace.

"But the flight in, the flight out, was a very, very dangerous part," President Trump said. "There was a chance that we would have met unbelievable fire. Russia treated us great. They opened up. We had to fly over certain Russia areas, Russia-held areas. Russia was great. Iraq was excellent. We really had great cooperation."

Trump said Russia didn't know why the U.S. was flying into Syria, however.