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President Trump said in a press conference Sunday that he did not inform congressional Democrats before launching a military operation that resulted in Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death because of potential leaks.

"We were going to notify them last night, but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I've never seen before. There's no country in the world that leaks like we do, and Washington is a leaking machine. And I told my people we will not notify them until our great people are out — not just in but out. I don't want to have them greeted with firepower like you wouldn't believe."

What we know: The president did not inform House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel or Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith of the raid. Smith's office has reached out to the Defense Department to determine why there was no pre- or post-raid call with congressional leaders, according to NBC News' Alex Moe.

  • Trump said he did, however, inform the Russian government that U.S. soldiers were conducting an operation in northwestern Syria.
  • Pelosi celebrated the death of Baghdadi in a statement on Sunday, but added: "The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance, and on the Administration’s overall strategy in the region. Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington."

Of note: Fox New's Chris Wallace today pressed Vice President Mike Pence on why Trump did not notify Pelosi of the operation. The vice president did not give a direct answer, according to CNN's Oliver Darcy.

Go deeper ... Trump on Baghdadi raid: "Bin Laden was big but this was bigger"

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
52 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.