A video montage of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan while he served in the Trump administration compared to his comments now that President Joe Biden is overseeing the drawdown has been viewed nearly 900,000 times since it was posted on Thursday.
Pompeo spearheaded former President Donald Trump’s negotiations with the Taliban, which resulted in the signing of a February 2020 peace deal that called for the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 2021. After he took office in January, President Joe Biden pushed the withdrawal deadline back to September 11 and then moved it forward to August 31. But the Taliban regained near total control of Afghanistan by August 15, two weeks ahead of that date.
Pompeo and Trump have repeatedly attacked Biden’s handling of the U.S. military withdrawal. Meanwhile, some top Republicans have strongly criticized the Trump administration over the peace deal they signed with the Taliban.
In a video produced by MSNBC’s The Mehdi Hasan Show, Pompeo’s previous remarks about the Taliban and Afghanistan are mashed up against what he is saying now—highlighting apparent contradictions.
In the first clip from the present, Pompeo describes the Taliban as “butchers” and “evil people,” saying the meetings with them were “some of the most difficult meetings for me personally, and emotionally.”
Comparatively, a clip from 2020 shows Pompeo saying that the U.S. has seen the Taliban “working diligently to reduce violence.” He adds that the Trump administration “has confidence that the Taliban leadership is working to deliver on its commitments.”
The next recent clip from an interview with Fox News shows Pompeo saying, “we never trusted the Taliban.” But in 2020, Pompeo said that the Trump administration had “every expectation” that the Taliban would follow through on its commitments under the peace deal.
And in another interview from last year, Pompeo said he “looked” the Taliban officials “in the eye” and they “revalidated” their commitments to the peace agreement.
As of the time of writing, the MSNBC video has been viewed on Twitter just over 900,000 times.
Newsweek reached out to Pompeo’s Champion American Values PAC for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
In an August 15 interview with Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace confronted Pompeo over his role in negotiating the peace deal with the Taliban.
“You were the first American secretary of state to ever meet with the Taliban and you talked about how they had agreed to join us in the fight against terrorism,” Wallace pointed out.
The Fox News host then played a March 2020 clip of the former secretary of state saying that the Taliban had agreed to “work alongside of us to destroy, deny resources to and have [U.S. designated terrorist group] Al Qaeda depart from” Afghanistan.
“Do you regret giving the Taliban that legitimacy? Do you regret pressing the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners? Which they did, some of whom are now back on the battlefield fighting with the Taliban,” Wallace asked Pompeo.
Pompeo responded by defending his record in the Trump administration. The former secretary of state said that “you make peace with your enemies,” asserting that his March 2020 statement “was absolutely true.” He argued that the Trump administration did “good work to crush Al Qaeda.”
Biden and Trump have both received substantial criticism amid the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The U.S. government was taken off guard by how quickly the Taliban regained control of the country. However, the U.S. military has maintained control of the Kabul airport, allowing it to evacuate approximately 111,000 Americans, allies and Afghan refugees since August 14.