GOP lawmakers criticize Trump’s Taliban invitation decision

Two Republican members of Congress have expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s now-canceled plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David for secret peace talks around the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The comments from Reps. Michael Waltz of Florida and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois came Sunday, one day after Trump tweeted that he invited Taliban leaders to Camp David for secret peace talks this weekend but canceled the meeting after the Taliban took credit for an attack in Kabul that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier. Trump has long sought to withdraw the U.S. from its longest war, but his revelation on Saturday night that he was considering holding talks with the Taliban at Camp David — a storied retreat where presidents have famously secured peace accords — was striking, especially coming so close to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“As we head into the anniversary of 9/11, I do not ever want to see these terrorists step foot on United States soil. Period,” Waltz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on “Newsroom” Sunday afternoon.

Waltz said Sunday that among his top concerns over Trump’s invitation was the Taliban “declaring this a victory.”

“The Taliban have shown zero desire for peace. There’s no ceasefire that they’ve agreed to. In fact, they’ve ramped up their attacks. We talked about the American soldier that just came home this morning in a coffin,” he said.

“So I just have a lot of concerns. I’m urging the President to walk away from this deal as it stands,” he added.

Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera later Sunday that he was in “disbelief” that “Taliban leaders, in the week of 9/11 … were going to come to really the area in the United States, not too far from New York, Camp David, that has been a place of such wonderful things that have happened in the past.”

He added that “negotiations between nation states can happen there, but a terrorist organization that doesn’t recognize nation states, that kills innocent women and children, that denies women the right to really even be in the same room as their husbands … to have them at Camp David is totally unacceptable.”

Kinzinger said Trump was correct to walk away from the talks.

When pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper earlier Sunday over criticism of the invitation to host Taliban leaders just days from the 9/11 anniversary, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo only offered that the U.S. has “made real progress” toward peace talks.

“It’s not just about commitments. We have to see them be able to deliver it. We have to have proof that it’s delivered. When we get to that point, when American national security interests can be protected I am confident President Trump will continue the process of trying to get what he has talked about since his campaign — a reduction of our risk level and the cost to the American people both in terms of life and treasure there in Afghanistan.”

Pompeo added that the U.S. is still interested in striking a peace deal with the Taliban but won’t move forward until there is proof that the Taliban can deliver on its commitments under a potential agreement.

This story has been updated.