Former President Donald Trump said he secured a deal with the Taliban by personally threatening the leader of the Taliban.
In part two of his sit-down interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, Mr. Trump criticized President Biden’s oversight of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which Mr. Trump had negotiated.
But the 2024 Republican presidential front-runner suggested the chaotic evacuation and the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers happened because the Taliban respected him but not Mr. Biden.
In March 2020, Mr. Trump spoke for 35 minutes with the deputy leader of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Mr. Hannity said in the interview that aired Thursday evening on “Hannity” that the former president had previously told him that he had told the mullah “that in no uncertain terms you would obliterate him if he dared not to follow every dotted I, crossed T, comma, period” of any deal.
Not quite, Mr. Trump demurred.
“No, I sent him a picture of his house,” he said with a smile.
“He said ‘But why, but why do you send me a picture of my house?’ I said you’ll have to figure that one out,” Mr. Trump said. “I said if you do anything, we’re gonna hit you harder than any other country has ever been hit.”
That changed everything, Mr. Trump said.
“He said ‘I understand, your excellency.’ He called me ‘your excellency.’ I dunno if he calls Biden” that, Mr. Trump said with an air of satisfaction.
He later elaborated that could imagine the Taliban’s incredulity at the details of Mr. Biden’s actual withdrawal, which Mr. Trump criticized operationally for, among other things, not pulling out the military last.
The Taliban “respected us. They were afraid of us, they respected us,” Mr. Trump said.
He also defended his actually making a personal call with a Taliban mullah, which was noted as having previously been “unthinkable” in media reports at the time.
“I took a lot of heat when I spoke to him. It was a rough conversation but it got friendlier toward the end to be honest with you because they were gonna do what I said.
“But the media said ‘Why does he call this person?’ I called this person because that’s where the action is,” Mr. Trump said.