Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
In a rare interview since leaving office, Donald Trump admitted this week that before he became commander-in-chief, he’d assumed that most of the president’s power didn’t actually come from the president.
“I have never realized how important, frankly—and it is a horrible thing to say—how important a president, the head of this country is,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night. “I thought it would maybe run through bureaucracy. It doesn’t. You need somebody up there that they are going to respect.”
Trump’s puzzling remarks about his understanding of presidential power were among several statements made during the interview focused almost entirely on President Joe Biden’s handling of U.S. military withdrawal in Afghanistan, which Trump called “the greatest embarrassment in the history of our country.”
“It is a terrible time for our country,” Trump said. “I don't think in all of the years our country has ever been so humiliated. I don't know what you call it—a military defeat or a psychological defeat—there has never been anything like what's happened here. You can go back to Jimmy Carter with the hostages.”
Trump also refused to take blame for any part of the Afghanistan crisis. Though the U.S.’ Afghanistan withdrawal happened under President Joe Biden’s tenure, Trump had already approved a pullout deal with the Taliban in February. Biden recently stood by the U.S.’ actions in the country, but said that he inherited the Taliban deal from the Trump administration.
In April, Biden announced that American forces would begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in the summer, with the goal of having all troops home by September 11 of this year. But in recent weeks, after the U.S. military almost entirely pulled out of the country and government leaders in Afghanistan fled, it allowed Taliban military forces to quickly assume control of the nation’s cities.
Terrified that the Taliban will come after them, Afghani civilians still in the country have been fleeing for their lives and going into hiding.
In response, President Biden and allied countries like Canada and the U.K. have begun to redeploy thousands of troops to the region in hopes of bringing back stability.