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After negotiating with the Taliban, Trump officials criticize Biden for negotiating with the Taliban

For years, the Trump administration touted its discussions with the Taliban. Now, those same officials are criticizing President Biden’s Taliban discussions. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

Hours after an Islamic State attack in Afghanistan killed more than a dozen U.S. service members, former president Donald Trump continued his efforts to rewrite the history of his 2020 deal with the Taliban.

“We had an incredible agreement, they weren’t killing our soldiers,” Trump said Thursday, contrasting the lack of attacks on U.S. troops after his Taliban deal with the “tremendous danger” that he said American troops were facing under a Biden-negotiated security agreement with the Taliban.

Trump failed to mention that his agreement required significant U.S. concessions in return for Taliban cooperation, even as the Taliban continued to attack and kill Afghan forces after the deal was signed. The agreement also hinged, in part, on a May 1 withdrawal deadline for all U.S. forces, which Biden later extended.

Trump officials scramble for distance from his Taliban deal

Now, as the United States works to finish its evacuation while relying on the Taliban for security assistance, Trump officials are criticizing the withdrawal that they themselves called for and negotiations with the Taliban that they previously supported. You can watch examples of these comments in the video above.

In 2018, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley praised the Trump administration’s engagement with the Taliban.

“The U.S. policy on Afghanistan is working,” Haley said. “… We are seeing that we are closer to talks with the Taliban and the peace process than we’ve seen before.”

Now, more than three years later, Haley is criticizing the Biden administration for its engagement with the Taliban.

“The thing is, there are times where you have to negotiate with the devil, but you negotiate with the devil from a point of strength,” Haley said Sunday. “… We literally have no leverage right now with the Taliban. All we’re going to see them do is they’re going to buy time and act like they’re going to be nice until Aug. 31.”

Trump’s deal with the Taliban, explained

In 2019, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended his negotiations with the Taliban, telling CNN that he would “trust but verify” what the militants said. Months later, Pompeo told Fox News that he expected the Taliban to follow through on the agreement.

“Are they really living up to that commitment? It’s our expectation,” Pompeo said two days after the agreement was signed. “I met with them myself when I was in Doha. I looked them in the eye. They revalidated that commitment.”

As the Taliban overtook Kabul 17 months later, Pompeo told Fox News that he never trusted that Taliban.

“We never trusted the Taliban,” Pompeo said Aug. 15. “You can ask them yourselves. We made abundantly clear if they did not live up to that piece of paper, to the words that they had put on the ground, we weren’t going to allow them to just walk away from any deal that they had struck, we were going to crush them.”

Now, as the Biden administration rushes to evacuate tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans, Trump has shifted to criticizing Biden and the agreement that Trump made with the Taliban nearly 18 months ago.

“It’s a great agreement from a lot of different standpoints,” Trump said Aug. 17.

“And frankly, Biden didn’t have to even go by that agreement,” he added, before pivoting to another topic: the southern border.