Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Sunday placed blame on the Trump administration for the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, saying its 2020 agreement with the Taliban sowed the seeds for the US’ turbulent exit from the country.
“Let’s keep in mind, (former Secretary of State) Mike Pompeo met with the Taliban. As Donald Trump was publicly saying, ‘We have to get out of Afghanistan at all costs. It’s not worth it,’ Mike Pompeo meets with the Taliban and tries to negotiate something,” Kinzinger, who represents Illinois, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “State of the Union.”
“They set this up to fail. But always, of course, Joe Biden could have easily turned this around, and instead used it as the excuse to get out,” he added.
Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told Keilar that “both parties have failed the American people and it can’t continue. And it particularly can’t continue with just pointing fingers while America is embarrassed in front of the world.”
The comments from Kinzinger add to some of the rare intraparty criticism that has been lobbed at the Trump administration in recent days as the US races to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies from the country after its civilian government in Kabul fell to Taliban fighters last weekend.
After years of negotiations, the Taliban and the Trump administration finally signed a peace deal in 2020. The US agreed to withdraw troops and release some 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while the Taliban agreed to take steps to prevent any group or individual, including al Qaeda, from using Afghanistan to threaten the security of the US or its allies.
Republicans pile on Biden administration over withdrawal
Although the Trump administration has taken heat for its decisions in Afghanistan, Republicans, including Kinzinger, also are laying into the Biden administration for the shaky removal of Americans and Afghan allies from the country.
The Illinois Republican told Keilar in his interview that while he believes the President is “trying” to oversee a swift withdrawal of people from the country, “the execution has been extremely disastrous.”
In the last 24 hours, more than 7,500 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan via US military aircraft or US-facilitated flights through private organizations and partnerships with other countries, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Keilar in a separate interview on Sunday.
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, slammed the Biden administration on Sunday for failing to quickly evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the country, saying the President “ignored the advice of his military leadership.”
“The fact that we’re now somehow relying on the Taliban to protect Americans and the White House is denying what we know is happening on the ground, which is that Americans are being beaten, they’re being prevented from getting to the gates to the airport, and they’re probably being held hostage,” Cheney said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa also chastised Biden over the situation in Afghanistan, telling ABC News’ “This Week”: “He knew this day was coming, and yet again, was very slow to respond to the needs of not only our American citizens, by pulling those troops out before we had them safely out of Afghanistan, but he’s also again jeopardized those that were partners to us through an extended war on terror,” referring to Afghans who assisted the US throughout the war.
And Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, told “Fox News Sunday” that the “President and his team’s incompetence have gotten us here,” urging them to scrap an August 31 deadline to remove all US troops from Afghanistan.
“August 31 was a stupid, arbitrary political deadline. The Taliban need to know that they don’t dictate the timetable on American lives,” Sasse said. “We need the President to make absolutely clear that we will finish the mission.”
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.