Earlier this month, House speaker Nancy Pelosi angrily claimed that President Trump or his team had sabotaged a congressional delegation to Afghanistan by leaking details to the media. The White House was quick to deny the claims, but Pelosi insists the trip was derailed as retaliation for the ongoing government shutdown Pelosi has played a big part in prolonging.
- Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House of Representatives – the presiding officer of the House, and it’s administrative head. That makes her a key figure in resolving the shutdown that’s now paralyzed our government.
- However, instead of working to resolve the impasse, Pelosi planned to head off with a congressional delegation on a tour of foreign cities. The 20-member delegation was supposed to take in Belgium and Egypt as well as Afghanistan, and would have lasted seven days – an extra week during which the shutdown couldn’t have been resolved.
- President Trump signalled his displeasure by canceling the military aircraft that had been scheduled to take Pelosi on the trip, saying that when 800,000 American workers aren’t being paid because of the shutdown canceling a public relations trip is “totally appropriate”.
- Pelosi arranged commercial flights to carry the delegation, but details quickly leaked to the press. That raised security concerns severe enough that she decided to cancel the trip. She then accused Trump of leaking the information to force a cancellation.
- However, it’s now emerged that Pelosi’s staff asked for authorization to buy their tickets – and they did it over an insecure system. The State Department warned them that they’d compromised the secrecy of their plans, and also told them that because so few airlines fly into Kabul it would be easy to predict what flight they were arriving on.
- A White House staffer said, “When the Speaker of the House and about 20 others from Capitol Hill decide to book their own commercial flights to Afghanistan, the world is going to find out. The idea we would leak anything that would put the safety and security of any American at risk is a flat out lie.”
- Using an insecure system to discuss the trip meant that hundreds – probably thousands – of people had access to the information, and some of the communications seem to have been with staff in Kabul. It was almost inevitable that details of the trip would leak; there’s no reason to think President Trump or his staff had anything to do with it.