Between President Trump’s articulation of the events that led up to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and subsequent news reports, we have a good sense of the timeline of the raid and of Trump’s involvement in it.

  • Trump spent Friday night at the presidential retreat at Camp David.
  • At 10:34 a.m. on Saturday, he left Camp David.
  • At 10:55 a.m., he arrived at the Trump Organization golf course in Sterling, Va. He played a round of golf with the commissioner of Major League Baseball and Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)
  • At 3:33 p.m., his motorcade was en route to the White House.
  • It arrived at the White House at 4:18 p.m., where a lid was called, meaning that the media should expect no more news for the day.
  • At about 5 p.m., Trump was in the Situation Room. Eight helicopters departed from Iraq on their way to the compound in northwestern Syrian where Baghdadi was holed up, just outside the town of Barisha.
  • A photograph of Trump, Vice President Pence and several military officials was taken in the Situation Room at 5:06 p.m., according to metadata on the photo provided to the press.
  • At about 6:10 p.m., the helicopters arrived at the compound. They reportedly exchanged gunfire with people on the ground.

The operation proceeded like this: Operatives offered Baghdadi a chance to surrender, and some people, including 11 children, came out. Soldiers blew a hole in a wall to avoid any booby traps. Baghdadi was cornered in a tunnel and a military dog was sent in after him. Baghdadi detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and three children who were with him and injuring the dog. (A robot was also at the scene but wasn’t used.)

  • After some of Baghdadi’s remains were recovered, he was positively identified within 15 minutes and confirmed to be dead at 7:15 p.m. The soldiers collected intelligence and defused two suicide vests worn by women killed in the raid.
  • Word of the raid spread quickly. This tweet is from 7:54 p.m.
  • At about 8:10 p.m., two hours after arrival, the helicopters departed the compound.
  • At about 9:20 p.m., assuming the same 70-minute flight time, they arrived at the place where the raid had originated. (Trump said the exfiltration used “an identical route.”)
  • At 9:23 p.m., Trump tweeted.

That timeline debunks some of the more disparaging assessments of Trump’s activities during the raid. A tweet from the official White House photographer under Obama, Pete Souza, suggested that the photo was taken after the raid had occurred, citing early reports that incorrectly indicated the time of the raid. That tweet prompted additional speculation that the raid occurred while Trump was playing golf, which appears to be incorrect.

That said, there are a number of details presented by Trump which still prompt unanswered questions.

Where did his claim that Baghdadi was “whimpering” come from? Among the most evocative assertions made by Trump was his depiction of Baghdadi’s final moments. Trump claimed to have been watching the raid live, as it unfolded, a viewing he said was like “watching a movie.”

“He died like a dog, he died like a coward, he was whimpering, screaming and crying,” Trump said at one point. “And frankly, I think it’s something that should be brought out so that his followers and all of these young kids that want to leave various countries, including the United States, they should see how he died."

On Monday morning, he reiterated that last point: Perhaps video footage of Baghdadi’s death should be released.

The rationale here is clear. By depicting Baghdadi as crying and weak, Trump in part hopes to undercut the image his supporters might have of him. (His reference to dogs may have similarly been meant to add insult to injury, though that phrasing is a favorite of Trump’s.)

What’s not clear is what Trump actually saw. The New York Times reports that there was probably no audio of the raid, which probably involved footage being taken from aircraft flying overhead.

That’s reinforced in part by Trump’s description of events in the Situation Room.

“We were getting full reports on literally a minute-by-minute basis,” Trump said at one point. “ ‘Sir, we just broke in.’ ‘Sir, the wall is down.’ ‘Sir,’ you know, ‘we’ve captured.’ ‘Sir, two people are coming out right now. Hands up.’ Fighters.”

That suggests a need to explain what was being shown.

It’s possible that soldiers on the ground were equipped with cameras, but no soldiers reportedly followed Baghdadi into the tunnel, just military dogs.

Speaking to ABC News on Sunday morning, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper was asked about the “whimpering” claim.

“I don’t have those details,” he said. “The president probably had the opportunity to talk to the commanders on the ground.”

Esper is shown sitting to Trump’s immediate left in the photo released by the White House.

Why didn’t Trump brief Democrats — even after giving a heads-up to Russia? After Trump announced Baghdadi’s death, he told reporters that he hadn’t briefed congressional Democrats before it began.

“We were going to notify them last night but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before,” he said. “There’s nothing — 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 the — our great people are out. Not just in, but out.”

Asked specifically if he had informed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about the raid, he said he hadn’t.

“I didn’t do that,” Trump said.” I wanted to make sure this was kept secret. I don’t want to have men lost — and women. I don’t want to have people lost."

Pelosi replied with a statement shortly afterward.

“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,” the statement read.

That part about Russia is accurate. While praising Russia’s assistance with the raid, Trump revealed that the country had been informed it was occurring to clear passage for the U.S. helicopters through Russia-controlled territory. But, he insisted, Russia “did not know why” U.S. forces sought passage. Just that Russia would “be very happy” with the outcome.

In other words, Russia knew a raid was happening but not why. Democratic leaders knew neither.

Trump’s assertions about leaks probably played much less of a role in his decision than his frustrations with Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who are leading the impeachment inquiry into his interactions with Ukraine.

Trump’s decision to exclude the Democrats from preparations raises questions about his obligations under the National Security Act to keep Congress “fully and currently informed” about intelligence activities, including “significant anticipated intelligence activity.”

What role did Syrian Kurds play? The raid, occurring just south of the border between Turkey and Syria, occurred in the context of Trump’s decision earlier this month to allow Turkey to sweep into northeast Syria and displace Syrian Kurds in the area.

During his briefing, Trump first offered thanks to Russia (for allowing the helicopters passage), and then thanked Turkey, Syria, Iraq and, as an addendum, the Kurds. Reporters pressed Trump: What help did the Kurds provide?

“They gave us not a military role at all, but they gave us some information that turned out to be helpful, the Kurds,” he said. He later claimed that, while the United States had worked with the Kurds in fighting the Islamic State, “it was much easier dealing with the Kurds after they went through three days of fighting, because that was a brutal three days.”

The Times’ Rukmini Callimachi, probably the leading journalist covering the Islamic State, reported after Trump’s remarks that the president’s decision to remove U.S. troops from the Kurd-controlled northeast probably forced the military to act on Baghdadi sooner than anticipated. Reports that Baghdadi planned to move prompted the weekend raid, given concerns about being able to locate him again with fewer resources in the area.

An official who spoke with the Times was pointed: “The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds … provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country."

Did Trump say too much? Trump’s depiction of the raid included a number of details that offered an unusual level of specificity. One CNN national security expert described the detail as “irresponsible” and “increase[s] risks of retaliatory attacks and risks to human sources on the ground.”

Among those comments was Trump’s explanation of how Baghdadi was located.

“You can never be 100 percent sure because you’re basing it on technology, more than anything else,” he said. “But we thought he was there, and then we got a confirmation.”

He later suggested that the Islamic State had shifted tactics.

“They’re not into the use of cellphones anymore,” he said, although he then gave them some unexpected credit: “They’re very technically brilliant. You know, they use the Internet better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump.”