Democratic Sen. Chris Coons criticized President Donald Trump on Monday for leaving top Democratic leaders in the dark about the US military raid that resulted in the death of the leader of ISIS.
“There is a long tradition of the President notifying leaders in Congress of both parties when there’s a sensitive operation underway,” Coons, who represents Delaware, told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “But to disrespect the speaker of the House, who is in the direct line of succession to the President, and to not inform bipartisan leaders in Congress, to only inform a few Republicans, I think was just one more important norm of cooperation shattered by this President.”
Trump said on Sunday that he did not inform some key Democrats about the daring raid that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Among those who weren’t informed of the operation by the White House were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. The move to not notify notable leaders goes against the usual tradition for such high-profile operations and undercut praise for the risky mission.
The President said the administration did not brief lawmakers due to a fear that they would leak information to the news media that could cost American lives.
“And I think the President should have the trust and confidence in our leaders in Congress to know that they would not have leaked sensitive details, certainly after the event,” Coons said Monday, adding that he thinks it was Trump who shared a “remarkable, even disturbing amount of detail about the operation” during his announcement of the raid.
“When fighting ISIS and terrorism, we aren’t Democrats and Republicans. We’re Americans,” Coons said.
Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan echoed Coons’ statement, saying “there’s a lot of traditions that go on when it comes to the executive branch notifying the legislative branch about these kinds of operations.”
She said the so-called Gang of Eight – the bi-partisan group of lawmakers who have access to the most highly classified information – should have been informed “so that it’s a bipartisan approach to understanding what our military is doing.”
“I just don’t think it sets the right tone and certainly doesn’t reflect what our forces on the ground would ever do,” Slotkin said.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.