Aside from the fact that President Trump’s campaign has strongly rejected the Taliban’s support for his 2020 reelection after members of the terrorist group expressed support for Trump amid negotiations on withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the media has only been focused on the optics of the Taliban endorsing Trump -- but they didn't.
"We hope he will win the election and wind up U.S. military presence in Afghanistan," CBS reported Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said last week. But he said that is not his quote.
According to the original CBS piece, the group respects Trump’s “America first” plan.
"It is the slogan of Trump from the start that they are not cops for the world and don't want a single flag and anthem for the globe, but their priority is America," Mujahid said. "When there is no interference by the U.S. in other countries, we believe they are facing fewer threats compared to their aggressive position.
Trump has a concrete policy in this regard and it is better for America."
In 2019, President Trump revealed that he had summoned the Taliban for peace talks at Camp David — days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks anniversary. He said he dropped the plans after the Taliban killed a U.S. soldier.
"Honestly, Trump was much more honest with us than we thought; even we were stunned with his offer to meet Taliban in Camp David,” said another senior Taliban member, referencing the meeting Trump canceled last year after the group killed the American soldier.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh emailed an announcement that they “reject” the Taliban’s support.
"We reject their support and the Taliban should know that the president will always protect American interests by any means necessary, unlike Joe Biden, who opposed taking out Osama bin Laden and Qasem Soleimani," the announcement said.
The Trump administration approved a historic pact with the Taliban in February in which the U.S. and its collaborators set a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw by the spring of 2021. The pact demands the Taliban to break from al Qaeda and negotiate a power-sharing agreement with Afghan government rivals.
The Taliban’s support comes after Trump tweeted on Wednesday that U.S. troops in Afghanistan “should” be back home by Christmas amid delicate negotiations with the group.
Trump's tweet appeared hours after his national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, announced the U.S. would decrease its forces to 2,500 by early next year.
Civilians proceed to be caught up in ongoing violence in Afghanistan, many in Taliban attacks. From January 1 to June 30 this year, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) counted 2,176 civilian injuries and 1,282 civilian deaths due to the conflict.
U.S. officials explained last week that the sudden pronouncement, which appeared timed to help Trump in the presidential election, will make it more difficult for his negotiators and the Afghan government, who are currently in already difficult talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.