Former President Donald Trump blasted Secretary of State Antony Blinken Monday over his attempt to blame Trump for last month’s chaotic military evacuation from Afghanistan — calling the Biden administration “inept.”
“The so-called leaders of our Country have gone crazy!” Trump said.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken argued that he had “inherited an agreement” struck by the Trump administration “to remove all remaining US troops by May 1 of this year.”
“As part of that agreement,” Blinken said, “the previous Administration pressed the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, including some top war commanders. Meanwhile, it reduced our own force presence to 2,500 troops. In return, the Taliban agreed to stop attacking US and partner forces and to refrain from threatening Afghanistan’s major cities.”
In an emailed statement from his Save America PAC, Trump pinned the prisoner release squarely on exiled Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“The inept Afghan government, led by corrupt President Ghani, released 5,000 prisoners—not the Trump Administration,” the former president alleged. “Secretary of State Blinken is doing everything in his power to make the most inept withdrawal in history look, at least, acceptable. It never will.”
Trump went on to suggest in his statement that the Biden administration will soon pay “billions of dollars” in aid to the new Afghan government in order to “help them along the way.”
In an earlier statement Monday, Trump described the withdrawal from Afghanistan as “pathetic and incompetent” and warned that “It will be a long time before we gain our reputation back.”
“Our Country is far more susceptible to attack by outside terrorist groups than ever before,” he said. “Our enemies all over the World are inspired by what just happened in Afghanistan—the removal of the Military first, and our ‘gift’ of $85 billion in Military equipment … Just nine months ago, the United States was viewed as being strong, and now we are being viewed as weak and stupid.”
Blinken insisted during Monday’s hearing that the Biden administration had “inherited a deadline,” but “did not inherit a plan”, despite the fact that the president moved the date of withdrawal from May to Sept. 11 — the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that led to the Afghan war — then pushed the deadline up to the end of August.
Democrats on the committee largely backed Blinken’s attempt to shift the blame to Biden’s predecessor, though Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) acknowledged flaws in the execution of the withdrawal.
“Could things have been done differently?” Meeks asked, before answering his own question: “Absolutely.”
Other Democrats in Congress, notably Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, have lambasted the White House — with Blumenthal saying last week that he was “deeply frustrated, even furious, at our government’s delay & inaction” on the issue of getting Americans out of Afghanistan.
“There will be plenty of time to seek accountability for the inexcusable bureaucratic red tape that stranded so many of our Afghan allies,” Blumenthal tweeted, later adding that he expected the White House and State Department to “do everything in their power—absolutely everything” to get them out safely.
“These are Americans citizens & Afghans who risked everything for our country,” he said. “We cannot leave them behind.”