President Donald Trump spoke to reporters Monday, defending his plan to hold the now-canceled meeting with Taliban leaders and Afghan president Ashraf Ghani at Camp David.
Addressing a gaggle of reporters on the White House lawn ahead of his departure early Monday afternoon, Trump pointed out that a possible alternative would have been the White House — and that would have been criticized as well.
The president began by confirming what he said via tweet late Saturday night about the fact that there had been a meeting scheduled and he had called it off in response to the suicide attack that killed an American soldier. (RELATED: You ‘Don’t Get To Negotiate With Good Guys’: Pompeo Defends Use Of Camp David For Taliban Meeting)
“You are talking about war. There are meetings with war otherwise wars would never end,” he explained. “You would have been going forever. We had a meeting scheduled. It was my idea, and it was my idea to terminate it. I didn’t discuss it with anybody else. When I heard, very simply, that they killed one of our soldiers and 12 other innocent people, I said ‘There is no way I’m meeting on that basis. There is no meeting.’ They made a mistake.”
Trump then echoed the explanation offered Sunday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, pointing out the fact that a number of unsavory characters had come through Camp David in the name of negotiations.
“Camp David holds meetings with a lot of people and pretty tough customers and pretty bad people,” the president added. “There have been plenty of so-called bad people brought up to Camp David for meetings. And the alternative was the White House, and you would not be happy with that either. So Camp David would have been a good place, but I don’t want to meet under circumstances where they go around and try to make themselves a little bit more important by killing a soldier, by killing actually also a great native soldier in addition to our soldier, and also a total of 12 people. I don’t want that. But Camp David has had many meetings, and I guess people would not have considered politically correct.”
Pompeo explained it in more or less the same way when he spoke with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” saying, “we don’t get to negotiate with good guys” to end wars and noting that a number of bad actors had spent time in negotiations at Camp David.