Donald Trump Reveals Sensitive Information While Criticizing Leaky Washington

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with President Sergio Mattarella of Italy in the Oval Office at the White House October 16, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Donald Trump attacked Washington yesterday as a “leaking machine,” defending his decision to leave people like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff in the dark over a major military operation because he feared their lack of discretion. Meanwhile, during the same news conference, the president revealed sensitive information that is normally only shared with expert officials.

According to Politico, Trump spoke yesterday at a news conference to announce that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Islamic State leader, was killed in a U.S. military operation. During the speech, Trump revealed that Baghdadi and been “under surveillance for a couple of weeks” and told reporters how many helicopters were involved in the operation and when they launched. He also talked about how technicians did a DNA test after Baghdadi killed himself by detonating a suicide vest.

The president also expanded on what the troops most feared during the raid and how the special forces teams infiltrated the building where Baghdadi was hiding.

Trump was criticized for the amount of information that he revealed, which some say could compromise future operations. Trump’s White House defended his statement, saying that he was “totally within his bounds as commander in chief.” The official added that the comments were unplanned, “but [Trump] got caught up in the moment like usual.”

An Obama-era official in national security expressed concern about the amount of information that Trump shared.

“This is obviously a major accomplishment, but from a counterrorism perspective, the president’s engagement with the media on this is pretty surprising to me,” Samantha Vinograd said. “It’s really unprecedented when you think about how much detail he actually went into.”

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But Trump has criticized Washington for failing to secure sensitive information. During the same news conference, he said that he didn’t inform Democratic leaders about the raid because he didn’t want them leaking information about it.

“We notified some,” Trump said, according to the New York Post. “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. There’s nothing — there’s no country in the world that leaks like we do, and Washington is a leaking machine.”

He added that he was concerned that any leaks could result in the deaths of those involved in the raid. Specifically, he said that he didn’t alert Pelosi. Schiff was also left out of the loop. Pelosi criticized Trump’s decision, saying that the House should be kept up to date on the administration’s operations in the region. Schiff argued that if something had gone wrong, Congress should have been made aware of the risks and to be able to provide feedback.