Pelosi: Syria briefing still needed after al-Baghdadi briefing

Pelosi: Syria briefing still needed after al-Baghdadi briefing
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Pelosi, Democrats using coronavirus to push for big tax cuts for blue state residents US watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight after intel official fired MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said the Trump administration still owes the House a briefing on the situation in Syria with Turkey after defense and intelligence officials briefed lawmakers following the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

 “We had asked for a briefing on Syria, they wanted to give us a briefing on al-Baghdadi,” she told reporters after the briefing. “We welcomed that, and we congratulate our forces that did that so successfully. We still want the briefing on Syria and Turkey.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Asked if the briefers at the classified session were unprepared to answer questions on Syria and Turkey, Pelosi said she “can’t go into what happened in there.”

“But again, let’s say on the plus side, the briefing on al-Baghdadi is something that we congratulate our forces for doing so successfully,” she said.

Lawmakers have been demanding a briefing on the situation in Syria since President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE announced at the beginning of the month he would withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to proceed with a long-threatened offensive against Kurdish forces.

Trump’s decision prompted a bipartisan backlash as lawmakers warned against abandoning the Kurds, who were the main ground force the United States relied on in the fight against ISIS. Lawmakers also fear Turkey’s invasion will lead to an ISIS resurgence.

In response to Trump’s decision, the House overwhelmingly passed both a resolution opposing the withdrawal and a bill that would sanction Turkey.

Calls for a briefing intensified after this weekend’s raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound in northwest Syria, with Pelosi and other Democrats fuming that Trump only briefed a few Republicans before publicly announcing the ISIS leader’s death.

Wednesday’s briefing was conducted by Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperSunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in Trump says 1,000 additional military personnel to deploy to NY Teddy Roosevelt's great-grandson weighs in on dismissal of Navy captain: 'Crozier is a hero' MORE, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireDemocrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Former intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials MORE.

Senators were also scheduled to be briefed after the House on Wednesday.

Pelosi said she “didn’t really get into” her concerns at the Wednesday briefing about bipartisan congressional leaders not being briefed ahead of time on the al-Baghdadi raid.

Asked if the broader Syria and Turkey briefing has been scheduled yet, Pelosi said, “They said it will be.”

Esper and Milley earlier this month briefed the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, but Pelosi is asking for a full House briefing.

Despite Pelosi’s comments, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTeddy Roosevelt's great-grandson weighs in on dismissal of Navy captain: 'Crozier is a hero' Pentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Overnight Defense: Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with outbreak | Trump to expand use of defense law to build ventilators | Hospital ships receiving few patients MORE (D-Wash.) said he walked away from Wednesday’s briefing with a better understanding of the administration’s plan for the way forward in Syria.

“There’s always more questions, but I thought we did get a pretty decent overview of what’s going on in Syria, what the plan is going forward,” he said. “I think they’re developing a new plan. In light of circumstances, they are having to develop a new plan as things have changed. And what we’re hoping is that there will be a dialogue going forward with Congress as to how that plan is developed, and that’s what they were pressed on most.”