Susan Rice Says Trump Should Have Informed Obama About Killing ISIS Leader
Susan Rice, who served as National Security Adviser for former president Barack Obama, says President Trump should have immediately told his predecessor about the raid to capture or kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, host Margaret Brennan asked Rice, “Do you know, was President Obama informed of the death of al-Baghdadi by the administration?”
At first, Rice demurred. “There’s no reason why I should know.” But she went on to say she was “quite confident” that he didn’t.
“There is a tradition of common courtesy of presidents informing their predecessors of things of significance like this,” Rice responded. “Since the White House seemingly didn’t feel it necessary to inform the leadership of the intelligence committees on a bipartisan basis, I’m quite confident that they didn’t do the normal protocol with respect to predecessors either.”
Rice did acknowledge that taking out Baghdadi was a significant accomplishment — although she then went on to pooh-pooh the mission.
“Well obviously it’s a major milestone and it’s one that we all should be welcoming quite plainly, but it doesn’t mean that the fight against ISIS is over. And it doesn’t mean that we can declare mission accomplished, and just walk away,” Rice said. “What we’ve seen time and time again in this part of the world is that when the pressure is relieved on terrorist organizations, whether al-Qaeda or ISIS, they are able to reconstitute. So we need to be vigilant. We need to maintain a minimal presence in order to ensure that the pressure stays on ISIS and they don’t come back roaring.”
Trump on Sunday said he did not notify some members of Congress — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman — about the mission.
“We notified some [and] others are being notified now as I speak,” Trump said in a White House speech.
“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.”
Trump said that was the safest course of action.
“Washington is a leaking machine,” Trump said. “The only people that knew were the few people that I dealt with … A leak could have caused the death of all of them.”
“I told my people we will not notify them until our great people are out — not just in but out,” Trump added.
Schiff told ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday that Trump should have notified the congressional “Gang of Eight,” the top Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate intelligence committee as well as leaders from both parties.
“In terms of notifying the Gang of Eight, that wasn’t done. Look, the reason to notify the Gang of Eight is frankly more important when things go wrong. If — the president said it was dangerous flying in. The Russians could have shot down American planes,” Schiff said.
“Had this escalated, had something gone wrong, had we gotten into a firefight with the Russians, it’s to the administration’s advantage to be able to say, ‘We informed Congress we were going in, they were aware of the risks. We at least gave them the chance to provide feedback.’ That wasn’t done here. I think that’s a mistake,” the California Democrat said.