In a break with tradition that many liberals as well as conservatives are calling ‘radical’ the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was one of the last officials in Washington DC to be notified over the weekend of the deadly raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound that killed him and perhaps several other high level ISIS leaders. The normal procedure, followed for the past quarter century, would have been for the Trump staff to have informed Pelosi first, before releasing a statement to the press or, as Trump proudly announced, giving the information to top Russian officials, including Vladimir Putin. When grilled about this apparent Beltway etiquette blunder by reporters, Trump responded that he felt the need for secrecy overruled the regular congressional courtesies.
While Pelosi’s reaction to the apparent snub has been low-key, others on Capitol Hill have not been so forbearing. A large Democratic contingent of legislators are continuing to claim that the president is consulting more with Putin about foreign policy than he is with his own State Department. Pentagon officials, who are not allowed to comment on the political side of military strikes and disabled veterans benefits without express permission from the White House, have been leery about saying anything about the Pelosi/Trump contretemps, except to say that it did not follow the normal procedure. In a press release this past weekend, the president stated that the Russian government needed to be notified earlier than usual because at some point American aircraft would be forced to fly over Russian-held territory in their pursuit of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his cohorts.
Trump also said that Washington was the ‘leakiest’ town he had ever seen; that his main concern was to make sure all U.S. operatives were accounted for before making the announcement to members of Congress. That didn’t hold true for 2 Republican members, however — Senators Richard Burr and Lindsey O. Graham were told of the operation while it was finishing up.