Mike Pence Says Trump Would Not Have Withdrawn Troops From Afghanistan

[Screenshot/Face the Nation]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Former Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview Sunday he believes former President Donald Trump would have kept a “couple thousand American forces” in Afghanistan despite striking a deal with the Taliban.

The U.S. State Department released a report Friday faulting both the presidential administrations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden for the botched withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021. The rushed departure subsequently led to the Taliban’s reclaimation of power and the death of thirteen U.S. service members.

The department’s “After Action Review” report stated the Trump administration had an “insufficient senior level consideration of worst case scenarios,” listed Trump’s desire to end a military presence and alleged there was “no plan or effort to help at risk Afghans” nor a plan on “how to keep diplomats in Kabul after withdrawal.”

Pence told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan he does not believe the Trump administration bears any responsibility for the debacle.

“It was made very clear, I was in the room when President Trump told the leader of the Taliban— [he] said, ‘Look, you’re gonna have to cooperate with the Afghan government. You don’t harbor terrorists and you don’t harm any American soldiers.’ We went 18 months without a single American casualty ’til the day at that Kabul airport, we lost 13 brave American service members.”

“The blame for what happened here falls squarely on the current commander-in-chief. And under our administration, I promise you, that while it was the intention of the former president to pull all troops out, when the Taliban broke the deal and moved into Mazar-e-Sharif and Joe Biden did nothing, that set into motion the catastrophe that became Afghanistan and the heartbreaking end to 20 years of conflict,” the former vice president said. (RELATED: Pence Denies Trump Pressured Him To Find Evidence Of Voter Fraud)

Brennan then asked Pence if the Trump administration would have kept the troops on the ground despite striking the deal.

“Well, look, candidly, it was always my belief that it would be prudent to keep a couple of thousand American forces there to support our efforts against terrorist elements, both in Afghanistan and in the region and I think we ultimately would’ve done that, just as the president announced we were— the former president announced we were pulling troops out of Syria,” he answered.

The State Department report also found the Biden administration did not know who was in charge of coordinating the department’s role in the Afghanistan withdrawal.