During Thursday’s broadcast of FNC’s “Hannity,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that President Joe Biden knew the Taliban threat prior to the U.S. military withdrawal despite suggesting otherwise.
Pompeo called a reported phone conversation Biden had with former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, asking him to lie about Afghan military preparedness “unforgivable.”
Partial transcript as follows:
POMPEO: Sean, good evening, yes. That’s certainly true. I was part of multiple conversations where the president made clear — I made it clear too, so did the military leaders during our time. We made clear that if the Taliban didn’t meet the conditions that we laid out, then the commitment was off, our agreement that we would depart fully would be off, and that we would impose enormous costs on them.
And when they did it, when they needed — when the Afghan national forces needed a close air support, you talked about this earlier, we provided it when the Taliban moved in places they were in agreement with us, that they wouldn’t do, we crushed them. We imposed real costs. We established deterrence.
When you walk away from that, when you don’t provide the support, when you don’t have the Taliban understanding with absolute clarity the cost that will be imposed if they move against American, create risks or threaten an American, or heaven forbid kill an American. When you don’t do that, you see precisely what we’ve seen these last three weeks now, Sean.
HANNITY: You were secretary of state when we took out Soleimani, we took out Baghdadi and his associates, we took out the al Qaeda leader in Yemen, and we — we beat the living Adam Schiff out of the caliphate in ISIS — ISIS in Iraq and Syria, did we not?
Was that brought up to by the president? Did he remind the Taliban of those moments where he acted and actions speak louder than words?
POMPEO: He certainly did, Sean. We all did. But the truth of the matter is, we didn’t really need to. They could see it. They knew leaders all across the world had seen that America was determined and willing to use American power when we needed to do so to protect American interests.
President Biden makes this fateful decision, a political arbitrary date to get out everything flows from that fateful decision. It wasn’t what we’d agreed to with the Taliban. We told them there had to be a set of conditions met. President Biden violated that central principle and you can see the results today.
HANNITY: I wasn’t top of the class at West Point like you were, sir. So I – – I defer to you.
Joe Biden claims, Jen Psaki claims that we, the United States, now have all the leverage. I would argue I don’t see any leverage because every American trapped behind enemy lines I would view as a hostage to the whims of terrorists. That’s a lot of leverage, Mr. Secretary.
And offering them economic assistance — that sounds like ransom where I grew up. I don’t know, but what do I know? I wasn’t at the top of my class at West Point.
POMPEO: Sean, we had leverage. Our leverage was our soldiers on the ground. It was places like Bagram Air Force Base. It was messages from the administration that made clear it would impose costs on them and the capability to actually deliver that, a demonstrated capability that was leveraged.
I’m very concerned. I don’t see that we have any leverage. I think that’s actually when you hear the spokesperson or the president talk about leverage, I think that’s code words for money, American money, going to these butchers, these men who are doing these horrific things today in Afghanistan. I think the president is signaling to the world, he’s willing to buy these Americans back when it didn’t have to be the case.
We didn’t pay a dime to get these hostages back during our time. When we had Americans held, we got them out through American diplomacy and American power.
I think this administration’s headed exactly the opposite direction. They’ve given up percent of the leverage that we had.
HANNITY: I assume, Mr. Secretary, that part of your plan included the extraction of our military equipments, C-17s, Black Hawk helicopters, drones, munitions, billions of dollars worth of up-armored vehicles.
I assumed the Trump plan included taking that home or destroying it, correct?
POMPEO: Sean, it absolutely did. We wanted to do several things and we were clear when we went from 15,000 to 8,600, paused and met the conditions, and when we got to 4,700 or 4,800, we paused. We observed the conditions. Each time, we made sure we had it right.
We had three missions. One was to get our young people home as quickly as we could. The second was to make sure that we weren’t attacked from this place again. And finally, we wanted to get every single American out and every bit — at least every bit of high-end equipment out of that country before we departed.
We were determined to do so. We had a pathway to do so, and we weren’t about to abandon those Americans on the ground before we got our military out.
HANNITY: Let me ask you about Joe Biden’s lie. He was telling us in July that this is one of the best trained armies, the Afghan — our allies — the Afghan army was one of the best trained militaries in the face of the earth.
That same month, he was saying, wait, look, whether it’s true or not, it looks bad. You got to just change the perception, said that to Ghani. By that time, I’m going to show a map and in this map, it shows how much territory the Taliban had in March and April and May and June and July when he’s telling us, oh, no, no, no, they’re one of the best armies.
What’s your reaction to that lie? Because it was obvious the Taliban was on the march and it was obvious that they were collapsing and his statement to Ghani is obvious that he knew when he lied to the country. He just wanted – – he just felt it was a perception problem.
POMPEO: Yeah. President Biden knew the truth he knew the truth that the Afghan army still needed continuous American support. The intelligence community, our military leaders were all very clear during our entire four years that they continued to need our support in spite of all that we had done for them.
So, President Biden would have most certainly known. It’s the fact that he got on the phone with Ghani, that’s true and said what it is. He said to essentially lie about what’s really going on.
I remember phone calls with presidents and foreign leaders, Sean. I remember my time, I was on that phone call with President Zelensky.
That pales in comparison to what President Biden did. He wanted the American people to have a message conveyed to them through President Ghani, one of the most corrupt leaders that I encountered in my entire time as secretary of state, he asked him to lie to the American people. That’s unforgivable, and we now have a massive problem with Americans held behind enemy lines.
It’s that kind of deceit it’s that kind of deception that was part and parcel of how we got to this place.
HANNITY: One thing I’ll say for certain, with President Trump as president, you as secretary of state, there’s no way in hell a single American would have been left behind enemy lines.
Thank you for being with us, Mr. Secretary. We appreciate it.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor