This is a rush transcript from “Hannity,” August 26, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: And welcome to “Hannity.”
The 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, he will join us in a moment.
But, first, it was the single deadliest day for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in over a decade. Twelve marines, one Navy medic were murdered, 18 other soldiers seriously injured, and are now being flown out on a C-17 transport plane with surgical units that are on board. Dozens of civilians also killed, including many young children — when two suicide bombers, several ISIS gunmen, launched a terror attack at the Karzai Kabul International Airport.
Now, tonight, we pray for all of those that have lost their lives, their families and sadly, we fear that the bloodshed is far from over.
Before we interview President Trump, he will join us tonight, we exclusively obtained, it just released moments ago, this message from President Trump to you, the American people.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: As one nation, America mourns the loss of our brave and brilliant American service members in a savage and barbaric terrorist attack in Afghanistan. These noble American warriors laid down their lives in the line of duty. They sacrificed themselves for the country that they loved, racing against time to rescue their fellow citizens from harm’s way. They died as American heroes and our nation will honor their memory forever.
I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of those we have lost. Today, all Americans grieve alongside you. Together, we also pray that God will heal the other courageous American service members who were wounded in this heinous attack.
In addition, our hearts are with the families of all the innocent civilians who died and with the many men, women and children who were terribly injured in this act of evil. This tragedy should never have taken place. It should never have happened and it would not have happened if I were your president.
Over the past few weeks, I know that many Americans have felt profound sorrow and even pain watching the events taking place in Afghanistan and perhaps none more so than the veterans of that 20-year war. Many of them answered the call proudly and without hesitation after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Every American who served in Afghanistan has made tremendous sacrifices for our country. On behalf of your fellow citizens, I want you to know that those sacrifices were not made in vain. We know what you did. We know how brave you were and we thank you, we salute you, and we honor you for all time.
I hope that every American will join me in continuing to pray for the safe return of all U.S. citizens and soldiers from Afghanistan in the coming days.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now, the president will join us momentarily and tonight, we are praying for our brave men and women abroad. It is a difficult position they’ve been put in. Now, thanks to Joe Biden’s asinine — if you want to even call it — withdrawal strategy, we have one way in and one way out of Afghanistan, that is the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
How in the hell is any American supposed to get inside that airport, it is now surrounded completely by the Taliban and they won’t let any of our Afghan allies through. And now, there are multiple reports that Americans can’t get through, that they’re taking their passports and getting rid of them. And our State Department in the last 24 hours has now said multiple times to people, our American citizens, fellow citizens in Afghanistan to stay away from the airport, which is under constant threat from terrorists and was just brutally attacked as you can see on your screen by ISIS.
Would you want your family strolling up to the gates, Joe?
Now, clearly, our soldiers, they’re sitting ducks. Our flights in and out are at risk of being shot down. There’s no safe passage whatsoever. This is an unmitigated foreign policy disaster, total humiliation for the United States on the world stage. And the saddest part of all of it is every single bit of this was preventable, easily preventable.
Six days ago, Joe Biden vowed any attack on our forces or disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with a swift and forceful response. But today, during what I can only describe as a at times incoherent, bizarre, mumbling, bumbling, rambling speech, Joe Biden — he presented no plan of action whatsoever, no strategy, no change in strategy no extra military support.
The Taliban deadline of next Tuesday apparently remains in place and Biden all but acknowledged Americans, our fellow citizens, our friends and our neighbors will be left behind enemy lines, hostages to the whims of terrorists — an unconscionable disaster, one of the biggest foreign policy debacles ever in American history.
At one point during the speech, Joe actually bragged about being a student of history and lectured all of us about why we just need to accept that some people will just be left behind. I’m having a hard time with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you say to the Afghans who helped troops, who may not be able to get out by August 31st? What do you say to them?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say we’re going to try to get you out. It matters.
Look, I know of no conflict as a student of history, no conflict where when a war was ending, one side was able to guarantee that everyone they wanted to be extracted from that country would get out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Mark my words, we are about to witness an international hostage situation on a massive scale.
And in the meantime, everyone inside that airport, everyone outside the airport all are in imminent danger. But it’s not totally clear that Joe Biden comprehends any of this. At best, to be charitable, I guess one can say he’s incredibly stupid. At worst, he is in a full-scale cognitive decline.
Frankly, all day today, I sat in horror. He looked like a deer in the headlights, and completely and utterly clueless. And now, someone other than Joe Biden appears to be calling the shots inside the White House.
Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Ladies and gentlemen, he gave me a list here, the first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell of NBC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Wow. I’ve been instructed? Okay, Joe, could you tell us who’s instructing you on what questions to take. You’re the president of the United States of America but in a very rare move, Biden did ultimately take an unscripted question from our very own Peter Doocy.
Let’s just say a little bit more than Joe was ready for or could handle and he tried to be the questioner. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You said the buck stops with you. Do you bear any responsibility for the way that things have unfolded in the last two weeks?
BIDEN: I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that’s happened of late.
DOOCY: I don’t think that the issue that — do you think that people have an issue with pulling out of Afghanistan, or just the way that things have happened?
BIDEN: I think they have an issue that people are likely to get hurt — some, as we’ve seen, have gotten killed — and that it is messy.
DOOCY: You squarely stand by your decision to pull out?
BIDEN: Yes, I do. Because look at it this way, folks — and I’m going to — I have another meeting, for real. But imagine where we’d be if I had indicated, on May the 1st, I was not going to renegotiate an evacuation date; we were going to stay there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: This is what a week of frail and a cognitively compromised presidency looks like. We tried to warn you. People are dying. Our allies have lost faith our enemies are completely emboldened tonight hostile regimes are salivating.
Joe Biden doesn’t even seem to grasp what’s happening. In fact, over the past few weeks he essentially bragged that Afghanistan’s withdrawal was going great. Jen Psaki said it’s going perfectly. He planned for every contingency after all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What will you do if Americans are still there after the deadline?
BIDEN: You’ll be the first person I’ll call.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would say that this is now on track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. So — and that is bringing American citizens out. It is bringing our Afghan partners out. It is bringing allies out. So, no, I would not say that is anything but a success.
BIDEN: We were clear-eyed about the risk. We plan for every contingency.
We have control of the airport now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Still a lot of pandemonium outside the airport.
BIDEN: Oh, there is. But, look, but no one’s being killed right now. God, forgive me for if I’m wrong about that. But no one’s being killed right now.
Thanks to the way in which we have managed our withdrawal. No one — no one U.S. or any forces have — have been lost. Conducting our drawdown differently would have certainly come with a increased risk of safety to our personnel.
To me, those risks were unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: This is how you define success, why didn’t you do it in April, in May, in June when we not — when we saw, we witnessed, we watched the Taliban taking over larger and larger portions of Afghanistan on their way to Kabul. Why didn’t you extract every American and every ally and all of our military equipment, the $83 billion you left behind, why didn’t you plan logistically to do that before they took control of Kabul?
The highest daily number of American deaths in over a decade in Afghanistan today all because of Biden’s horrible plan and of course he stayed on vacation. He just pulled the troops out, during the fighting season, abandoned Bagram airfield, ignored the Taliban’s rapid advance in April, in May, in June, July and just apparently hope for the best. Now, an unknown number of Americans are still trapped in Afghanistan, behind enemy lines they are screwed. They still have no idea how many Americans are trapped. So are their families, so are their friends and so are our allies.
And according to a report from “Politico”, someone in the Biden administration actually gave the Taliban — get this — a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies that the Taliban is not allowing any entry to the airport to, to grant entry into the militant- controlled outer perimeter of the city’s airport.
One defense official telling “Politico”, quote, basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list. Joe Biden claims he doesn’t trust the Taliban, just he gave them a list of people who worked with the United States or a more accurate description, he’s likely signed their death certificates. On top of all the computer programs, with every name of every Afghan that ever helped us, including biometrics, which will help identify these people. While also giving the Taliban the power to secure the perimeter of the airport, with their notorious checkpoints still no answer as to why they did not evacuate every American and ally and the $83 billion in military equipment, including the Black Hawk helicopters and aircraft that we left behind.
And the sad truth is Joe Biden’s cowardice, stupidity has forced the most powerful nation on earth with the mightiest military on earth into a corner. He’s ignored dozens of important warnings. He’s rejected advice from those on the ground, sources telling us on this program, this is not and was not in any way an intelligence failure.
The CIA, they pulled their people out weeks ago. They warned Joe Biden in no uncertain terms daily and they’ve been warning him for months and he never listened. And now, he’s too weak too spineless to fight back or even adjust his plan, send in more military to help ensure that we extract every American and leave no American behind.
Joe Biden ultimately now as of today has blood on his hands. His actions frankly are unforgivable. His administration, they cannot be trusted and I fear frankly and I pray that God I’m wrong, the worst is yet to come. Joe Biden has been and he remains MIA.
President Trump will join us in a few moments. We’ll get his take on this disaster and how he would have prevented it.
But joining us first with a full report is our very own Peter Doocy. I was glad that you were called on today, Peter. I found it interesting that he wanted to be the questioner.
You know, some things we haven’t gotten answers to and I know you’re trying very hard every day and I give you a lot of credit, why didn’t they expedite the withdrawal seeing that the Taliban was on the march in April, May, June and July? Why do they trust the Taliban? Why didn’t anyone destroy the $83 billion in equipment? Are we getting any insight behind the scenes that that maybe you know about?
DOOCY: We are getting some new insight and we were happy the president took our question on a day that I know is very somber and very important to, a huge portion of our viewing audience his — to the — to something that you just ran, he said he can’t say with certainty if the U.S. shared a list of Americans with the Taliban at these checkpoints, but that it could have happened.
Throughout though, his tone today, very somber, shortly after he said that it’s been a tough day. The flags here at the White House were lowered to have staff to honor the 13 fallen American heroes.
And while the president notes that this operation in Kabul is not over yet, it’s about to be. The president is sticking to his self-imposed deadline. Troops out by Tuesday. Any Americans or Afghan allies left behind, he thinks can be contacted and rounded up and evacuated safely after the Taliban resumed control, even though he says no one trusts the Taliban.
We know the president was briefed this week about possible contingency plans to maybe keep boots on the ground for longer, but he is not going to activate them. Things there are winding down as the threat from ISIS-K remains very serious. He says he is going to hunt them down wherever they are. It’s not yet clear though what that’s going to look like if ISIS-K remains in Afghanistan and we no longer have troops there.
The president says he does not regret working alongside the Taliban to secure the airport. That’s even though the CentCom General McKenzie confirms that today’s suicide bomber did make it through a checkpoint that where Taliban fighters were supposed to be screening people.
And so, there are a lot of very active dynamics going on here, Sean, and the president warns that the next couple days could be very tough as well.
HANNITY: So, Peter, my take on this today what is he’s sticking to this deadline and acknowledging that Americans will be left behind. Is that your take?
DOOCY: That it’s possible Americans will be left behind and so will many of these Afghan interpreters or other Afghan helpers who were under the impression that because they were eligible for these SIV special immigrant visas for helping us over the last 20 years, that they would not be left behind.
But the president is not going into detail about how exactly those people are going to get out after U.S. troops leave.
I asked Jen Psaki some version of the question, if the Taliban is already stopping these Afghans from getting to the airport to leave right now, how in the world are we going to ensure that they can get to the airport when there are no U.S. troops nearby? And they don’t want to share operational details. It sounds like there is some sort of creativity that’s going to go into this process to save these people who are very desperate to get away from the Taliban and to get away from these warring terrorists who are filling the vacuum.
HANNITY: Last question.
HANNITY: Did you get an answer as to why when the Taliban was on the march and we keep playing this time elapsed map of the larger and larger geographical area the Taliban was marching through, why they didn’t expedite while they had control of Kabul, the withdrawal? Why they left their military equipment? At the very least, why they didn’t destroy it?
DOOCY: Yeah, well, according to these members who were briefed by the Biden administration, there just is not a plan to retake that equipment right now. But all of it goes back to the Biden brain trust believing based on intelligence that they say they were getting that they had more time that yes, Kabul would fall, that these provinces would fall, but that they thought they had at least until the end of the year.
The thing we keep hearing from officials here is nobody thought that they would get all the way to Kabul, and Kabul would fall in just a matter of days — Sean.
HANNITY: All right. Peter, you’ve done a phenomenal job, as always. Thank you, Peter Doocy.
Here with more, co-host “FOX and Friends Weekend”, Pete Hegseth, along with former acting director of national intelligence, Ric Grenell.
Pete, I know you pulled out your phone with passion the other night on this program.
PETE HEGSETH, CO-HOST OF “FOX AND FRIENDS WEEKEND”: Yeah.
HANNITY: You and like so many others I know, Ric, I know you’ve been involved in this as well — talking to people that you know friends of yours that are stuck, that are on the ground or they’re the people that allied with us. We promised them, Pete, if this day ever came, we’d get them the hell out. There’s no way we can get him out now, is there?
HEGSETH: Not even close. Sean, the only plan that’s in play is the Taliban plan. We’ve been playing by their playbook and we’ve been hoping by it. And today, it manifest in the worst possible way.
God bless the souls of these 13 marines, of these men and their families and all they’ve given and they were failed —
HEGSETH: — by the Biden administration who did not adjust their strategy. So we knew there was a threat from ISIS-K, and I’ve been a platoon leader. I’ve been on a wall guarding a defense. If you know there’s a threat and we knew it for 24 hours, you either — you have to change your strategy. You either get more defensive or you go proactive and defend that perimeter. They did neither knowing the threat was there, because they’ve been relying on our enemy, on the Taliban to deliver for them.
And the Taliban delivered exactly, exactly what we should expect from them — death and violence. Nothing will get better from here. And Joe Biden said nothing, it would — I — everyone I know was watching what was said today, and everyone I know was disappointed by the fact that our commander- in-chief cannot deliver a — let alone a coherent sentence, a coherent idea other than we rely on the Taliban, which is relying on the people who want to kill us.
And the people who will be left behind are the first people on their list to kill, and it is a disgrace for our country.
HANNITY: You know, Ric, I keep going back because they — the Taliban was on the march. We watched them in April and May and June. It should have been — you know, a five-alarm fire while we had control of Kabul, all of this could have been done with no risk to anybody’s life, all of our allies could have been extracted, every American could have been brought home all of our equipment could have been brought home or at the very least destroyed. None of that happened.
Now, from my understanding is and based on your background, this was not an intelligence failure, that the intel community had it right, they themselves pulled their own people out and they were sounding the call daily. Is that what you’re hearing?
RIC GRENELL, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: This was not an intelligence failure. This was a failure of politicians in Washington, D.C. You’re exactly right.
They started briefing intelligence community, State Department officials, a whole bunch of people started briefing in May, telling them that the Taliban was on the march. Remember that Donald Trump handed Joe Biden a stable Afghanistan and a functioning embassy. And in that functioning embassy, there were foreign service officers.
I think that what’s going to happen, Sean, is the strategic blunder is going to be closing Bagram Airbase. Why was Bagram closed? And the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, why were they not screaming to say you cannot close Bagram and remove U.S. troops when we have an embassy in harm’s way, in a war zone?
And yet, that’s exactly what happened. Our secretary of state allowed State Department employees to be in harm’s way without the military. I think that it’s not too much and I say this very calmly, it’s not too much to say that Anthony Blinken should resign, Wendy Sherman should resign, both in disgrace for leaving State Department employees in a war zone and sitting in a cabinet meeting and allowing Bagram to be closed.
Look, we had — we just saw the president of the United States knock on wood. That was his plan.
I can tell you, Donald Trump would not be knocking on wood right now. He would have had a plan and something else would have been knocking.
HANNITY: It wouldn’t have — it wouldn’t have gotten to this point. We all know that. I know you both have been working very hard to help people you know to get out and working every channel you have. I applaud your hard work and efforts. Thank you both.
Here now with the very latest out of Afghanistan, our national security correspondent, along with Peter Doocy, Jennifer Griffin, you have been doing a phenomenal job. I’m watching your reports with great detail. What can you tell us at this hour, especially after what the president said today?
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Sean.
What I can tell you is we heard from General Frank McKenzie, the U.S. CentCom commander, today, here at the Pentagon. And what he shared with us was very alarming because he said there are ongoing threats and ongoing threat stream to the 5,000-plus U.S. troops currently at the airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL KENNETH “FRANK” MCKENZIE JR., COMMANDER, UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND: Very, very real threat streams. Very, very — what we would call tactical that means imminent could occur at any moment, and they range from rocket attacks, we also know they aim to get a suicide a vehicle born suicide attack in if they can, from a small vehicle to a large vehicle. They’re working all those options and we’re doing everything we can to be prepared for those attacks. That includes reaching out to the Taliban who are actually providing the outer security court and around the airfield, to make sure they know what we expect them to do to protect us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Despite the loss of life, General McKenzie vowed to continue the evacuation mission. The U.S. military faces a clear catch-22 and admits they are reliant on the Taliban to stop bombers from getting to the airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you still trust the Taliban and is it possible that they let this happen?
MCKENZIE: So, as to whether or not they let it happen, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything — to anything to convince me that they let it happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: The general and — the president and General McKenzie blamed ISIS for the attacks today. It was a complex attacks. Two suicide bombers and multiple ISIS gunmen opened fire at the airport gate after the initial bombing. General McKenzie says he is still counting on the Taliban to continue protecting his troops who remain at the airport in Kabul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCKENZIE: They have a practical reason for wanting us to get out of here by the 31st of August, and that’s — but they want to reclaim, they want to reclaim the airfield. We want to get out by that day too, if it’s going to be possible to do so. So, we share a common purpose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: The president indicated that his U.S. military has a good idea of who is responsible for the attack and will hunt them down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCKENZIE: We’ve been clear all along that we’re going to retain the right to operate against ISIS in Afghanistan, and we are working very hard right now to determine attribution, to determine who is associated with this cowardly attack and we’re prepared to take action against them, 24/7, we are looking for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: The problem is they are now in the capital hiding among civilians — Sean.
HANNITY: All right. Jennifer Griffin, great job, great reporting. I know you’ve been working around the clock. Thank you.
Former President Trump will join us in a moment, but first, we turn to Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North for reaction to today’s events.
Colonel, not just your reaction to the events, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our brave servicemen and women and their families injured and killed today, but also innocent civilians.
And listening to the president, I heard two things today — I’m sticking to the artificial deadline and it’s likely we’ll leave Americans behind. Colonel, that’s not the America that I know.
LT. COL. OLIVER NORTH (RET), CO-AUTHOR OF “WE DIDN’T FIGHT FOR SOCIALISM”: That’s — no and it should never have happened. It is his responsibility. You cannot accomplish the mission of getting Americans all the Americans that want to go and more of the Afghans out of the country with that limited number of troops, the artificial deadline and the promise of bringing additional U.S. troops to carry out the mission stay as long as necessary is what he should have done. I’ve given those out before.
Let me just give you one real good piece of news — the number of personnel who have now gathered in the — in the Panjshir Valley, well to the north, but it doubles almost every single day. And so, what you’re going to have is people on the ground who are going to take the fight for us in those right — in the right direction.
The downside is the National Resistance Front up in the Panjshir Valley led by the former vice president, Amrullah Saleh, Ahmed Massoud, and the former chief of staff the Afghan military, General Zia, cannot get humanitarian support. The kind that we delivered way back in the 1990s when we were supporting the Afghan — excuse me, the Kurds against Saddam. We’ve done it before.
They need food. They need fuel. They need medical supplies, particularly for COVID. None of this needs to be talked about outside of the people who can actually deliver it. We’ve heard from some of them and I’ve — I’ve been on the comms with those guys.
They want to fight. They — they’re ready to improve all the things that they did before to the Taliban and they really ready — they’ve got fighters around who are delivering armored vehicles that they’ve brought with them and we’ve got helicopters and fixed-wing assets. We’re going to have a whole lot more to say about that in the future, Sean.
HANNITY: Colonel, I can tell you that we will have that vice president in the north part of Afghanistan on this program tomorrow night. You’ll be joining us as well. We’ll see you then. We appreciate you.
All right, joining us now live on the phone, the 45th president of the United States, President Trump.
Mr. President, we played your remarks that you just released. I want to first to get reaction to the events of today. And I have got a lot of questions I want to ask you.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it’s so sad.
It’s probably, from the standpoint of military tactics and just embarrassment, the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to our country. We look like fools all over the world. We are weak. We are pathetic.
We are being led by people that have no idea what they are doing. They take the military out, and then they say, now we will bring out the people. And, all of a sudden, the Taliban walks in.
We had the Taliban so under control, they wouldn’t have moved without getting our approval. We had an incredible agreement. They weren’t killing our soldiers. You know that. And it was part of their — in fact, Biden actually said that today. He said they weren’t killing them because of the agreement that we had, that we did.
And they hadn’t killed one of our soldiers in many, many, many months, and they weren’t going to, because they were afraid to. And we had them totally in control.
All of a sudden, Biden administration takes over, and they say, we are taking the military out. They didn’t say they are taking the people. First, you take the people out, and then you take the equipment out. We left $80 billion worth of equipment.
And I want to tell you, I think our soldiers — forgetting about even civilians, I think our soldiers are in tremendous danger. I think airplanes flying in and out of the airport are in tremendous danger. They have the best equipment, best rockets, the best tanks, and helicopters, Apache helicopters, a lot of them, that are immensely valuable.
And, by the way, Russia wants them because they want to examine them, because we have far superior technology. And China wants them.
This is the dumbest thing. I think it was the dumbest move anybody has ever made perhaps in the history of our country, allowing this to happen, taking the military out and then say, oh, we hope to get the people out.
And then, when I hear General McKenzie say that the Taliban is going to protect us, the Taliban is the enemy. I dealt with the leader of the Taliban. This is not — this is not a very simple man. This is not a Boy Scout, to put it another way.
This is a tough, hardened person that has been fighting us for many years. And we are using them now to protect us?
Look what happened with their protection; 100 people — much more, they say, than 100 people were killed, and 13 of our incredible military were killed. And that is just the beginning, because there are many of our military in the hospital right now very badly wounded and hurt.
HANNITY: Mr. President, let me ask you and get your reaction to President Biden’s presser today, where he is sticking to this artificial deadline, and clearly accepting and acknowledging that — the idea that Americans will be left behind, and the allies that, they now have the database.
They even handed over a list of people that we wanted to get through to the airport, that those people will be left behind, when promises were made, not necessarily where we would take them, but we would get them the hell out of there, pretty much a death sentence for all of them.
The Taliban has already been going door to door, and we have reports of it.
But what is your reaction to sticking to this artificial deadline, and your reaction to the idea of accepting a notion that we leave Americans behind?
TRUMP: So, they gave this list of Americans to the Taliban, who we have been fighting for many, many years.
And they are tough fighters. They are good fighters. But now they can be much better because they have the best equipment in the world, and so much of it, they don’t know what to do. They will be selling it on the open market.
But we gave that to these people. And ISIS-X (sic), as you know, I knocked out 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate. I knocked it out in Syria, Iraq. We knocked it out. So, now they have a new ISIS called ISIS-X (sic).
And that’s members of the Taliban that are far more vicious, because they don’t like the way the Taliban is behaving, because they are not vicious enough. So, this is Taliban fighters that are much more vicious.
And we are using the Taliban and giving lists of Americans to the Taliban. So, now you just knock on the door and grab them and take them out.
This country has never seen stupidity like this. And our country is really in trouble. Our country is really in trouble. And it’s only going to get worse. What you are watching now is only going to get worse. It can only go one way.
We had something where they didn’t get near us. They were petrified of us. I let them know that, if they do anything, we hit them right where it hurts, which is their homes. And they know it. And they were waiting for us. They would have been very happy to let us go and take every American and anybody else we wanted, take our equipment. And, for some reason, he botched the plan and took the military out first.
No, it is a very sad day for our country and a great embarrassment. Beyond embarrassment, it is a very dangerous day for our country.
HANNITY: Mr. President, let me go, because Joe Biden brought it up in his exchange with Peter — our own Peter Doocy today, and that is that he inherited your plan.
And I want to go over it, because I had both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also former CIA director, and I had your chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on my radio show. They have both been on this television show.
And they went into great detail about what your plan was. And maybe the Biden administration, the Democrats love to release transcripts of calls. I would love this one to be released, that, in no uncertain terms, not once, but on numerous occasions, but before any negotiation began, that you got on the phone with the leader of the Taliban, and you made it as clear as day.
You reminded them about killing Baghdadi and his associates, and you reminded them about killing Soleimani, and you reminded him about the caliphate that you destroyed. You reminded him about killing the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, and that you said that, if they didn’t follow — these are there words — every I — every T crossed, every I dotted, every comma and period, that you would obliterate them and use every means available to you to do that.
And you brought this up at the beginning and numerous times throughout the process, also that your deal was conditions-on-the-ground-based, and it included you keeping control of Bagram Air Force Base.
Can you tell us first about the call and then the deal?
TRUMP: Well, it was a tough call.
And it started out by saying that they will be hit harder than any country has ever been hit in the history of the world if they do anything, and, in particular, kill our soldiers or even try to kill our soldiers.
And even Biden admitted today that the reason they didn’t kill any soldiers and we haven’t lost soldiers in many, many months because of the agreement that we signed, because I wanted to get out. I wish we never went in.
The biggest mistake we made in the history of our country was going into the Middle East. I call it quicksand. And we went into the Middle East, and we shouldn’t have been there. We blew it to pieces. And now we are leaving. And because of what they are doing, we are leaving in disgrace.
We could have left with great dignity. We could have left with safety. We could have taken everybody with us that we wanted, all of the great American citizens and people that helped us, whether it’s interpreters or others. But we could have taken them out very easily, and we wouldn’t have had a rush, because the Taliban was not going anywhere.
We had them totally under control. Every time we saw movement, we would hit them with an F-18, and the movement stopped. But we had very little of that, because, Abdul, who I spoke to, who turns out to be the leader, Abdul would not let anybody do anything.
And I can tell you what happened, in my opinion. They went to him and the other leaders, and they said, the American military is leaving. They are pulling out.
And they were probably — looked at the people who said it and said, you have got to be — there’s no way that’s happening. There’s absolutely — I’m telling you, they are leaving.
They couldn’t believe it. And then they sent some fighters in, and there was zero in the resistance. Before, they got blown away. Zero resistance. And then they sent the whole group in, and you had thousands, tens of thousands of Taliban.
And then, on top of it, they went into the warehouses, and they saw all this equipment, and they took it. You see them marching down the streets now with brand-new, the best rifles, better than our soldiers have.
It is a disgrace. And it is about the withdrawal. It is not about getting out, because getting out is something I have wanted to do for a long time. And they are right when they say a lot of generals didn’t.
And we have — by the way, we have great generals in our military, but not the television generals, not the guys you see on television.
You look at what I did with ISIS and how we beat them, we beat them with great generals. We had great, great leadership. We have the greatest military in the world, but we look like a bunch of fools. What happened, what they have done is incredible.
So they walked in without a bullet being shot, without a bullet being fired. They walked in and they took over Kabul and they took over everything else.
And if you look back at a timeline, we held them totally steady. But I wanted to get out. But we had to get out with dignity. We had to take our $80 billion worth of equipment. We had to do all of the things that you know we had to do.
And then I would have blown up all the air bases, but I would have kept Bagram, because Bagram is located right next to China, right near China and Iran. And it is in Afghanistan. So, we had the whole group covered.
They spent $10 billion building it. And we handed out the keys. It’s the craziest thing I have ever seen.
HANNITY: Mr. President, let me — I have been playing on this program a map.
And this map, it goes through the — it walks people through the movement of the Taliban starting in April and May. And I’m not sure if you have a television on in front of you, but it shows, all of a sudden, May, June, July, and you see all of this territory as the Taliban was taking over control of pretty much the entire country.
Our intelligence agencies knew this. I’m getting reports that they were giving dire warnings to the White House that, while they had control of Kabul, that they could have — they could have expedited the withdrawal, and they could have not only gotten every American out while they had total control, but every Afghan ally out, and that military equipment, the $83 billion of which you refer, out.
The question is, is, as you look at that map, and you see why — I cannot get a reasonable answer to this question. Why didn’t they stop them in April and May or June, or at least expedite the withdrawal, seeing that they were squashing this great Afghan army that Joe Biden in late July was telling us about?
Why didn’t they do it sooner?
TRUMP: Sean — Sean, you didn’t have to expedite anything. We had plenty of time.
They weren’t going to move. They — we had them under total control. We had the airplanes. We had the Air Force. They had nothing. We have — it’s just incredible, what has taken place.
And if you look at where it starts turning redder and redder and redder, and then, all of a sudden, the whole place is one big red color, that all took place after January 20, when they assumed — there was no reason to expedite. I could have taken two years, three years to get them out.
We were going to get them out fast, but there was no reason to use the word expedite, because we were in no rush. We controlled everything. And they were afraid to move. They wouldn’t have moved, Sean. They wouldn’t have done a thing my approval. Everything they did was conditions-based, conditions-based. And the biggest condition, you can’t kill Americans.
And they can go back to their civil war after we are gone. They can do whatever they want to do. But you can’t ever kill Americans. And you can never come to our homeland. And he knew what was going to happen if they ever did it, and he fully understand, but it was a very respectable conversation he had with your president at the time.
And it’s a horrible thing, when I watch what’s happening. Even the fact that you use the word “expedited” — there was no reason to expedite, we had total control. We had all the airbases.
They weren’t moving, Sean. They weren’t doing anything. Everything that they’ve taken was after Biden took over. We had everything the way it was.
And I was not a fan of that word, I was never a fan of — when Bush went into the Middle East, it was one of the worst days in the history of our country and the world, frankly, but they did it. They decided to do it. And it’s been nothing but a catastrophe ever since.
But this is now the lowest point, because —
HANNITY: So, sir, let me be clear of —
TRUMP: — no reason to run, there was no reason to run, and there was no reason to expedite.
HANNITY: Because if Joe Biden had stuck with the Trump plan, the first movement of the Taliban to any other province outside of that which was agreed to, they would have been met with fierce military force to push them back, immediately, correct? Is that you’re at — is that what you were saying? That’s the difference because I didn’t happen after January 20th.
TRUMP: They knew that was going to happen with me. I mean, you ran through it, I don’t have to.
If you look at al-Baghdadi, he was the founder of ISIS, we took him out. Nobody could find him for 15 years. Far bigger than Osama bin Laden, far bigger. Osama bin Laden, bad, and he hit, you know, the World Trade Center and it was a horrible thing, but al-Baghdadi was the founder of ISIS.
And you look at Soleimani, he blew up everybody, the roadside bombs. And he was looking to do tremendous damage. He was going to knock out five of our five sites and thousands of our soldiers in the Middle East were going to be killed. We took him out. Nobody believed it at the time.
The head of Pakistan said it was the single biggest event that he’s ever seen take place in the Middle East. He said 50 years and maybe even 100 years — took him out.
We had everything under perfect control. And then Biden came in and they saw weakness, and he didn’t do anything. He didn’t do anything.
And they took over, and then we ran out. And we’ve just destroyed the image of America, of our great country, of our incredible warriors, and they are incredible warriors. But they still need leadership at the top, and they don’t have it.
HANNITY: Mr. President, let me take you back to remarks you made in 2017, because you ran in 2016. I covered, as you know, that campaign extensively. You ran on the idea that there would be and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan. But you decided to slow the withdrawal down in 2017, and here’s what you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: But — but you had got to the point where you felt it was safe enough, but you could have a withdrawal in such a way that you’re leaving in place the pieces where the Afghan army and enough air support, that they would be able to keep the peace, keep control, and keep the Taliban at bay.
You did make adjustments to your policy.
TRUMP: No, I had it — I had it set up so perfectly. It was done so well. We were already, everything was good.
We had the Taliban totally frozen in place. They weren’t going to move, and that’s when I made my move.
But, you know, we rely on stupid people like H.R. McMaster, John Bolton, some of these people were really stupid people. I mean, Bolton was involved in getting us in with Bush into the Middle East, but you rely on people. Fortunately, whether it’s Fauci or them — I don’t listen to a lot of people if I think they have bad ideas.
But we have a lot of very bad and very — the only thing I can think, not very smart people giving advice.
But we were set up, and it didn’t have to be hasty. What I said is exactly right, because we didn’t have to go quickly, because we had them frozen in place. They weren’t going to move.
And Abdul, as I like to call him, Abdul was just going to wait us and just — he was going to go in and he was going to be fighting.
Now I told you numerous times, the Afghan military was paid a lot of money by the United States. Those soldiers were among the highest paid soldiers. They weren’t fighting for their country.
I remember when Mattis was saying, sir, they’re fighting for their country — they were fighting because they got paid a lot of money.
And as soon as that money, as soon that spigot was turned off, they turned, and that was the end of that.
Now, this was a horrible thing. We had that so beautifully placed. If we would be there now, we would be, we would be — as president and with the administration, you would have seen something very nice. Nobody would have even realized we had gone.
Everybody would have been out. The equipment would have been taken out. I would have blown up all of the bases. We would have kept Bagram, and we would have had some pretty talented people there, but we would have kept it because of China and Iran — and Afghanistan, to a much lesser extent.
And literally, nobody would have even known. They’d go back to their — whatever they do and let them fight each other. We should have never been there and never been in the Middle East in the first place.
HANNITY: Now that you’ve made clear what your plan was, Joe Biden clearly didn’t stick to that plan. This is where we are.
At the president’s press conference today, Joe Biden sticking to this artificial deadline, accepting of the fact that Americans will be left behind, and the allies — we already know the Taliban is going door-to- door, identifying — now they have the data to identify and the biometrics to identify, any Afghan that helped us in the last 20 years.
I have been talking every night this week to Colonel Oliver North. With each passing day, and the deadline of Tuesday approaching, our options become limited.
Is this a situation where we potentially could leave hundreds or thousands of Americans behind enemy lines, and allies that we had made a promise to extract if this day ever came, behind to be murdered, and there’s going to be mass executions, because Joe Biden is adhering to the Taliban’s given date of August the 31st?
TRUMP: Well, Biden and the woke generals are just woke. I mean, you look at what they’re talking about. I was saying even at the end of my time, I was seeing letters being sent out about equality and all of these different things.
The soldiers, they want to fight. They want to be prepared to fight. They want to be soldiers.
But the woke generals, and it’s gotten to a level where nobody can even believe. They were looking to get out.
But they forgot one thing. They forgot to take the people with them and the merchandise with them — meaning they forgot to take the greatest military equipment anywhere in the world with them. And it’s hard to believe, actually, because a child would have understood. You get the military out last. A child would have understood that.
How could they have done this to our country?
HANNITY: Well, I’ve been trying to wrack my brain, and you had access to some of the brightest military minds in the world. I’ve been told this is not, Mr. President, this was not an intelligence failure. That the warnings were dire and were repeated, and that the intelligence community pulled their own people out many weeks ago seeing what was on the horizon.
But they didn’t keep it to themselves. They rightly — we have the best intelligence gathering services in the entire world — they shared their information with the White House, with the strong admonition and strong warning. And there’s no — and nobody acted.
If you’re thrown into a situation like this, looking at it, just where we are in right now, putting aside your plan that they didn’t follow — is there any option that you see available to help save every American? Is there any option you would employ at this late hour to help — to protect Americans and not leave them behind?
TRUMP: We have been put in the worst position we could possibly be put in, a position that nobody would have even thought possible, even two weeks ago. Nobody would have thought this would be possible, that we could be in a position like this, where the Taliban and others are dictating — and they are the one saying get out on the 31st.
I think Biden wanted to stay, but they said, we will not have you come and get out, there will be consequences. You heard that. That was said by the leader of the Taliban. We want you out by the 31st, there will be consequences.
What kind of stuff is this? These are the people that we had at bay to a level that you wouldn’t believe. There was no way that — they never even fired on our troops. They didn’t — again, we didn’t lose any troops for and just, like long, extended period of time. Nobody was even fired, frankly, until today, when we had a tragedy take place, and that’s because of this agreement.
And, unfortunately, Biden didn’t follow it because he took the military out first and left everybody open, and I feel very, very badly for the people. And they were very loyal to our country, whether it’s interpreters or others, and they were very loyal to our country, but we certainly are in a bad position. There are always alternatives. You can do things, there are things to do.
But I don’t want to talk about them because if I ever did give the idea, I don’t want to give it to the enemy. You know, it’s not like, oh, gee, I’m on Sean’s very highly-rated show, and let me give you some nice ideas and then they prepare for them. That’s the problem, everything we do was on television, you see it on television, what are we going to do, and you have five people talking, including generals talking, and now they are really hitting Biden very hard because they see that the generals are talking to the press.
Can you believe it? Do you think that Patton and the great Douglas MacArthur, General Douglas MacArthur, do you think they would do the kind of things that you are seeing? They are saying terrible things about Biden. They’re hitting him hard. And it’s all coming from a certain group of television generals.
But we have great generals. Look at what I did with ISIS. I mean, those are generals that were phenomenal. I’ll give you their names if you’d like them at the right time, but we have some great generals, and they don’t play games.
HANNITY: Let me ask you this, Mr. President. Jack Keane, General Jack Keane, on FOX, a senior strategic analyst, talked about what will now be the reality. Joe Biden confirmed today that our military will be gone no later than next Tuesday. It’s Thursday night. That’s not long away, and that there will be possibly hundreds if not thousands of Americans hostage caught behind American lines. I never thought in my lifetime I would ever report that, sir.
TRUMP: Well, first of all, Jack is great. I gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House, he’s a fantastic man. Was stronger on staying there than a lot of other people were, to be honest with you, but he is a fantastic guy and a great patriot. He loves our country. He cannot believe what is happening here, nobody can believe what is happening. And you know who he looked so bad in front of is Russia and China and Kim Jong- un, North Korea, and the European Union, they are laughing at us. They had a horrible meeting with the G-7 the other day. They went out and they were going wild. You saw what happened in Parliament, British Parliament, where statements were made about our country and about our president, nobody has ever spoken about our country or our president the way they did in Parliament. It is so embarrassing.
But the embarrassment is the least of it. There is great danger right now. They have unbelievable weapons. They have people, as I said, that broke away because they weren’t — because the Taliban wasn’t mean enough and vicious enough. And that’s the new ISIS-X (ph), where they broke away, or ISIS-K, they’ll have an ISIS-X pretty soon, which is going to be worse than ISIS-K. Now, it’s a very sad day for our country, and there are things we can do, but just not things that we want to talk about right now. You know, when Biden got up and he talked about, we are leaving, we are leaving, so fast, we are leaving right away, we have no choice, but we’ll come back and we’ll get them, but we’re not going to get anybody. Once you leave, you leave. We are not going to get anybody. He talks like a tough guy, and he is not a tough guy. He is just the opposite. And the world knows it.
HANNITY: Well, the secretary of state said they would then if they — all of our troops will be out, they’re sticking by the deadline, Joe Biden confirmed that today, and then they said that there will be diplomatic or other economic strategies they might use. When I heard the word “economic,” I started thinking and Americans caught behind enemy lines, held hostage at the whim of a terrorist group, that sounds a little bit like ransom to me, Mr. President.
TRUMP: No, they have the cards with this group. And there are things you can do to counter it and things you can do to counter it very strongly, but they have the cards. But when you say secretary of state, when you watch the decisions that are going to be made and being made, and you know what is going to be made, because they played all their cards. And look at the great job that Mike Pompeo did, because he’s tough and he’s smart. Number one in his class at West Point, and a great student at Harvard Law School. He was — he did a great job as secretary of state. But he was tough, and he knew what was happening with this. And he knew what was happening with China and Russia. And we would talk often.
We had it all planned out. And then they decided to move the military out, and let’s not follow the plan. It’s like the only thing is, it’s like the border wall. Nobody could handle it worse. We had the greatest — we had the greatest protection that we’ve ever had on our southern border, and now we have the worst. And it was the worst nightmare to watch it. That looks good by comparison to what’s happening in Afghanistan.
HANNITY: You mentioned these hostile regimes. You mentioned China. We can talk about — you mentioned Kim Jong-un. You mentioned North Korea, the Iranian mullahs. We see the geographical, geopolitical maneuverings of China, they want “reunification,” basically the takeover of Taiwan. They are lecturing Americans on human rights in front of Tony Blinken, and he sat there and took it. They are telling Americans that we need to get their permission to land in Taiwan. They are also saber-rattling all throughout the China Sea and threatening our military bases. And now there are reports that they have worked their way into Afghanistan, as now a strategic partner, and they are trying to strategically align with the Taliban.
Then you’ve got Russia, China, and Iran now doing war games together. So, what is your interpretation of how these hostile regimes are viewing America at this moment in time, with Joe Biden, what, eight months in office?
TRUMP: Well, President Obama and Vice President Biden drove Russia and China together. The all-time curse. That is the one thing you didn’t want to do. And because of energy and their stupid policies on energy, it drove China and Russia together. Congratulations. That’s what they’ve done, and that was bad.
As far as Taiwan is concerned, you never saw bombers flying over Taiwan. You never saw any threat. They didn’t even mention Taiwan while I was president because President Xi knew you can’t do that. That was something you can’t do. I had a very good relationship with him until the China virus came in, then I changed my mind on a lot of things. We made a great trade deal with China. I don’t even talk about it. The farmers are the biggest beneficiary, and the manufacturers, they benefited greatly and they’re doing great because of that trade deal. I don’t even talk about it because once the China virus came in, it was a whole different ball game.
But I had a great relationship with him. And then, that relationship, I just — it’s just — it was too big. The COVID, COVID-19 was just too much to have that relationship. Probably caused by incompetence, but who knows? A terrible, terrible thing.
But you look at what is going on with Taiwan now, they are flying bombers over Taiwan. They are very threatening because they see what is happening in Afghanistan and other places. They see what’s happening on our southern border, where millions, millions of people are pouring through our southern border, 21 percent have COVID, 21. So they’re infecting our country all over, and nothing is done about it. It’s a very, very bad time for this country.
HANNITY: You talk about open borders. You talk about the high rate of COVID positivity. We’ve now become — we’re now at the point where Joe Biden is begging OPEC to produce more energy. You left the country energy independent. Joe Biden had no problem changing your successful border policies that were working, your energy independent policies that were working. Now we’ve got inflation on top of it. Now we’ve got breakthrough COVID cases, and again, that high rate of positivity among those entering the country illegally. They are just being processed. Nobody is being stopped. Where do you see this going economically for the American people? And we’ve got about a minute, sir.
TRUMP: Well, we are going to have massive inflation. You look at gasoline, was $1.87 a gallon, and now it’s going to be well over $5 a gallon very shortly. That is going to drive it itself, inflation, but food prices are driving it, too. Food prices are doubling, and they’re going to be crippling. We have a very, very tough period of time to come.
And they weaponized the Justice Department. They have weaponized the IRS. They go after Republicans. We have a very, very rough road, but I believe our country, something good is going to happen. I am a big believer in something good is going to happen. And we are going to figure it out. And hopefully the people of our country are going to figure it out, and fast.
HANNITY: And the whole PAC that you have now is Save America and Make America Great Again, and because of legal reasons, you told me last week, you can’t answer the question if you’re going to run, so I won’t waste your time on it, is that fair?
TRUMP: I just think people are going to be very happy, but that’s right, because of campaign finance reasons, you can’t talk about it. If you could, I would be talking right now, but people are going to be very happy.
HANNITY: Mr. President, you’ve been very generous with your time. Thank you for your perspective at this important moment, we appreciate it.
TRUMP: Thank you.
HANNITY: And our thoughts and our prayers are with the families of these brave servicemen and -women that lost their lives, severely injured, and the civilians, and their families, and those trapped behind enemy lines, and those allies that are pretty much targeted for death.
That’s all the time we have left. Let not your hearts be troubled. Troubled times. Laura Ingraham takes it away. Have a good night.
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