Fox News Host Confronts Mike Pompeo Over His Role in 'Failed' Afghanistan Withdrawal

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with his own role in the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan as the former Trump administration official slammed President Joe Biden amid the Taliban's takeover of the country.

The Taliban has rapidly retaken control of Afghanistan as the U.S. and its allies have withdrawn their troops from the country. The February 2020 peace deal with the Taliban leading to the withdrawal was signed under former President Donald Trump and spearheaded by Pompeo, who suggested at the time that the Taliban would become partners with the U.S. to fight terrorism.

During an interview with Fox News Sunday, Pompeo said it was "pathetic blame shifting" for Biden and White House officials to point out that they had inherited the peace deal from the Trump administration. The former Trump administration official argued that Biden had "utterly failed" by withdrawing the U.S. troops.

Wallace pushed back, pointing out that prominent military officials and leading Republicans had been highly critical of the deal made under Trump's and Pompeo's leadership.

"But I have to say, it isn't just President Biden who says this. When we announced that you were going to be a guest on this program, a former top military commander in Afghanistan and a current top Republican member of Congress both talked about the deal that the Trump administration and you negotiated back in 2020 with the Taliban, to pull out all U.S. forces," Wallace told Pompeo.

The Fox News host then played a clip of Trump defending the planned withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan while he was still president.

"Basically we're policemen right now. And we're not supposed to be policemen. We've been there for 19 years in Afghanistan. It's ridiculous," Trump said in that clip at the White House.

Chris Wallace and Mike Pompeo
In this screenshot, Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace interviews former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about his role in the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Fox News/screenshot

"Critics say that for the U.S.to cut a deal with the Taliban without the Afghan government even in the room was hugely demoralizing and led inevitably to where we are today," Wallace said.

Pompeo insisted that this assessment was "simply not true." The former secretary of state also said that Wallace should "go read the deal, go read the conditions that were built into the deal." He asserted that the "Afghans were in the room."

Pompeo said he was "proud" of the work the Trump administration did to negotiate the deal.

"I just want to ask you one more question about your record though, sir," Wallace responded, pressing the issue. "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."

The Fox News host then played a March 2020 clip of Pompeo 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.

The former Trump administration official defended his record, saying "you make peace with your enemies." Pompeo remarked that his March 2020 statement "was absolutely true." He also said that the U.S. did "good work to crush Al Qaeda" during Trump's tenure in the White House.

Like Pompeo, Trump has attacked Biden as the Taliban has swiftly retaken control of Afghanistan.

"He ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him—a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America. The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground," Trump said in a Saturday statement.

After Biden took office, he decided to follow through with the peace deal signed with the Taliban under Trump in February 2020. Biden actually extended the withdrawal deadline from May 1 to September 11, then later moved it forward to August 31.

Even as the Taliban has rapidly regained control of Afghanistan, Biden has defended the withdrawal. He has argued that the U.S. already accomplished its objectives in the county years ago by defeating Al Qaeda there and killing the group's leader Osama bin Laden.

The alleged masterminded of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the U.S., bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011 during former President Barack Obama's administration.

"I do not regret my decision," Biden said last week. "Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands—lost to death and injury—thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."

Newsweek reached out to Trump's press office and the White House for comment, but did not immediately receive responses.