Pompeo defends Trump's invitation of Taliban to Camp David, citing 'obligation to do everything we can'

Pompeo defends Trump's invitation of Taliban to Camp David, citing 'obligation to do everything we can'
© UPI Photo

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process MORE on Sunday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE's decision to invite a Taliban representative to Camp David for peace talks with Afghanistan's president. 

Pompeo told CNN's Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperSteyer says 'grassroots organizing' in Nevada, South Carolina got him on debate stage Pentagon chief says he 'didn't see' intelligence suggesting Iran planned to attack four US embassies Ex-White House press, military officials call on Grisham to restart regular briefings MORE on "State of the Union" that the administration has "an obligation to do everything we can." 

ADVERTISEMENT

"The president believed that we could further that, that we could further America's national interest by having conversations with the people that have the capacity to actually deliver," Pompeo added. 

Tapper asked Pompeo if he personally had any issue with inviting the Taliban to Camp David.

“I can't help but think that if a Democratic president had talked about having the Taliban come to Camp David to negotiate a peace process that was not already a done deal that you, as a congressman, as a soldier, as a veteran, as a West Point graduate, that you would be rather upset,” the CNN host said.

"I've been fully supportive of this effort, the direction that we have taken," Pompeo responded. 

Trump announced late Saturday he had canceled a planned secret meeting with leaders of the Taliban and Afghanistan's president at Camp David, saying he had called off negotiations with the insurgent group after Taliban leadership claimed credit for a deadly attack in Kabul.

Politicians across the aisle questioned Trump's choice to have the insurgent organization's leaders meet at the U.S. venue just days ahead of the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerPentagon exodus extends 'concerning,' 'baffling' trend of acting officials in key roles Republican group asks 'what is Trump hiding' in Times Square billboard Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill MORE (R-Ill.) was one politician to call out the president's plan. 

"Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn't renounced 9/11 and continue in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER. Full stop," he tweeted.

Pompeo said on Sunday that the U.S. is looking for "proof" that the Taliban has the "capacity to actually deliver" on its commitments.  

"Make no mistake about it. We will continue to punish," he added. "We will continue to protect the American people."

During a separate interview on NBC, Pompeo noted Camp David’s history in peace negotiations, “sometimes with some pretty bad actors.”

"The president ultimately made the decision that if we could get that, if we could get commitments and then put in place a verification regime that would give us confidence that we could observe that those commitments were being honored, that it was a useful effort to try and get all of those parties in one place so that we could have serious conversation," he said.

Read more from The Hill:

Pompeo: Taliban talks are dead 'for the time being'