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Trump defends keeping Democrats in the dark on raid

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By Shannon Pettypiece  with NBC News Politics
Image: President Donald Trump speaks to the press before boarding Air Force
President Donald Trump speaks to the press before boarding Air Force One on Oct. 28, 2019.   -   Copyright  Brendan Smialowski AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday doubled down on his decision to leave Democrats in the dark about the raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,saying he believed at least one top Democrat could leak the plans.

When asked by a reporter why he didn't inform House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the military action, Trump attacked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who has been leading the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, suggesting the California congressman could have taken action that would have put American lives at risk.

"I think Adam Schiff is the biggest leaker in Washington," Trump said before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Chicago. "You know that, I know that, we all know that. I've watched Adam Schiff leak. He's a corrupt politician, he's a leaker like nobody's ever seen before."

While Trump kept the plans secret from Democrats, he informed a number of top Republican allies and foreign governments. Pelosi accused Trump yesterday of informing the Russians before the Democrats and Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, who said he learned about the raid on television, has called on the White House to provide a full briefing.

The lack of advance notice to congressional leaders, which marked a break with precedent, came as the presidential impeachment inquiry marches forward.

Trump said on Sunday when he announced the killing of al-Baghdadi that he had not told Democrats of the plans because "I wanted to make sure this kept secret, I didn't want to have men lost, and women, I didn't want people lost."

While the president is not required to notify congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, it has been standard practice: President Obama, for example, had that group briefed ahead of the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, and called former President Bush before his public remarks on that event.