Pelosi: Syria briefing still needed after al-Baghdadi briefing

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

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left 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.”

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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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 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 EsperHillicon Valley: Pentagon pushes back on Amazon lawsuit | Lawmakers dismiss Chinese threat to US tech companies | YouTube unveils new anti-harassment policy | Agencies get annual IT grades Overnight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Pentagon dismisses Amazon questions over Esper's recusal in 'war cloud' case MORE, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireKennedy doubles down on alleged Ukraine meddling amid criticism Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House chairmen demand answers on Open Skies Treaty | China warns US to stay out of South China Sea | Army conducting security assessment of TikTok 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 SmithOvernight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons House passes defense bill to establish Space Force, paid family leave for federal workers Pentagon leaders: Trump clemencies won't affect military order and discipline 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.”