Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put himself in the hot seat as he visited multiple Sunday talk shows.
Confronted multiple times over reports about a canceled meeting about potential peace talks between President Donald Trump and Taliban leaders, Pompeo said he was in full support of the meeting and Trump’s efforts to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end. The US secretary of state said the administration has two major missions when it comes to Afghanistan: to make sure there is not another terror attack on U.S. soil and to put American soldiers at risk “as little as possible.”
The peace talks, Pompeo insisted, were meant to lower violence in the Middle East and to “honor” the sacrifice many American soldiers have made in a war that has raged for two decades and cost the U.S. “billions and billions of dollars.”
Trump canceled the meeting, after the Taliban conducted a terror attack that left one American dead in an effort to gain negotiating power, an administration decision Pompeo said he also supports.
“It made no sense for the Taliban to be rewarded for that kind of bad behavior,” he said.
Tapper tried repeatedly to frame the conversation in a way that ignored reality and made Trump look bad.
Pompeo did not take the bait.
“President Trump will always protect Americans and the American interest and one of the ways we’re trying to do that is to take down the violence levels in Afghanistan, so that we can rebalance,” Pompeo said.
Getting back to peace talks will take a “significant commitment” from Afghanistan though, Pompeo added.
Drawing a contrast between Obama and Trump, Pompeo said Trump is committed to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan only if it is in the interest of the American people.
“This has been something that multiple administrations have tried. President Trump made clear [that] we’re not just going to withdraw because there’s a timeline. We’re only going to reduce our forces when certain conditions are met,” Pompeo said.
Tapper seemed to have a particular problem with Taliban leaders being invited to Camp David. Asked why this happened, Pompeo again stood the line.
“[They were invited] to get this accomplished. The American people are demanding it. Now, almost two decades and the loss of life … We have an obligation to do everything we can to protect those men and women and to take down the risk. That’s what President Trump was aiming to do,” Pompeo said.
Tapper eventually stopped playing word games and just let his leftism flag fly.
“I can’t help but think that if a Democratic president had talked about having the Taliban come to Camp David to negotiate a peace process that was not already a done deal, that you as a congressman, as a soldier, as a veteran, as a West Point graduate, that you would be rather upset?” Tapper asked.
“Jake, you’re just wrong about that,” Pompeo said. “I’ve been fully supportive of this effort.”
He went on to say that the timing for peace talks is “just right” and he understands the “value” to ending the conflict in Afghanistan.
He also promised that peace talks do not equate to going easy on the Taliban.
“Make no mistake about it: we will continue to punish, we will continue to pound, we will continue to fight, we will continue to protect the American people,” he said.
Pompeo also pushed back against Tapper’s claim of bias.
“If I was worried about … President Obama, it was because he was prepared to leave without ensuring that we could protest America. This administration will never do that,” the secretary of state promised.
Check out Tapper’s segment with Pompeo below:
Tapper’s show was not the only one where Pompeo’s feet were put to the fire.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace,” Pompeo again found himself defending Trump’s decision.
Pompeo reiterated that for peace talks to happen again, the Taliban needs to show “they’re prepared to do the things that we ask them to do in the course of those negotiations.”
Wallace was just as persistent as Tapper in his framing of the conversation, again and again asking why President Trump would enter peace talks with the Taliban on American soil.
“Who thought it was a good idea for the President of the United States to meet with Taliban leaders who have the blood of thousands of Americans on their hands just three days before 9/11?” Wallace asked at one point.
“The president ultimately made the decision. He said, ‘I want to talk to President Ghani. I want to talk to these Taliban negotiators. I want to look them in the eye, I want to see if we can get the final outcome that we needed so that we could sign off on the deal,'” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also reiterated his faith in the president when it comes to Afghanistan.
“The president will not take a bad deal,” he said.
He also again said that negotiating with the Taliban does not equate to supporting them.
“It’s almost always the case, Chris, that you don’t get to negotiate with good guys,” Pompeo told Wallace. “The reason you’re in negotiations is to end wars.”
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