Former President Donald Trump secretly signed a memo just days after his election defeat that would have withdrawn all remaining US troops out of Afghanistan just five days before he left office, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, Peril.
The memo, which according to the book got withdrawn after top military and national security officials who were left out of its crafting, intervened with Trump, came months before the Biden administration would oversee a sudden withdrawal – which Trump would slam as chaotic and disorganized.
The Nov. 11th memo, titled ‘Memorandum for the Acting Secretary of Defense: Withdrawal from Somalia and Afghanistan,’ stunned chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, according to Peril, which Woodward coauthored with journalist Robert Costa.
The new acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and his chief of staff Kash Patel were also caught off guard.
President Donald Trump signed a secret memo calling for the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021 – just five days before he left office, but top security aides scrambled to nullify it, according to the new Bob Woodward book
The memo directed the new acting Pentagon chief to withdraw all troops from the country ‘no later than 15 January 2021.’
The book quotes Milley as telling Miller and Patel: ‘This is really f***ed up and I’m going to see the President. I’m heading over. You guys can come or not,’ before heading over to the White House.
He then showed it to Trump national security advisor Robert O’Brien, who also had not seen it.
When O’Brien went to the former president, Trump told him he had signed the memo, according to the book.
O’Brien then told Trump he had to meet with this top security team.
The new acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller was caught off guard by the order when they learned about it
According to the book, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien went to former President Trump to get the memo rescinded
Trump did not complete a troop drawdown by the end of his presidency, and the Biden administration rushed to get out troops and equipment after the government in Kabul fell
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley went to the White House to try to pull back the memo, according to Woodward’s account
Woodward and Costa called it a ‘rogue memo,’ and O’Brien evidently was able to dispense with it.
‘We’ve already taken care of this. It was a mistake. The memo was nullified,’ he told the Pentagon brass.
The episode comes from a book that describes Milley fearing Trump was experiencing ‘mental decline’ after the election – and undertaking extraordinary actions to reach out to his Chinese counterpart and and secure nuclear weapons.
Trump in a blistering statement Tuesday night accused Milley of treason over the incident.
The existence of a memo with a withdrawal date just days before Trump was to leave office comes amid heated clashes over Biden’s own withdrawal.
Biden has blamed Trump for negotiating a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, and carried it out after a single extension from an April deadline.
Trump blasted Biden’s pullout in an August statement: ‘He ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him — a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America,’ Trump said. ‘The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground.’
Trump had repeatedly called for ending US wars during his time in office, and negotiated the troop presence there down to 2,500 before it was to drop to zero.
Axios reported on the existence of the memo in May. It said it was drafted by former Trump body man Johnny McEntee, who took on a prominent role in the final months of the Trump presidency, as well as retired Lt. Col. Douglas MacGregor, an advisor to Miller.
McEntee ran a White House personnel office at a time when Trump was seeking to install loyalists across the government.
They delivered the memo to Miller two days after Trump had given instructions to McEntee, according to the report.
According to that report, McEntee handed MacGregor handed a brief note outlining what the president wanted him to do. It said: ‘ 1. Get us out of Afghanistan. 2. Get us out of Iraq and Syria. 3. Complete the withdrawal from Germany. 4. Get us out of Africa.’
The Pentagon only announced Nov. 11th, 2020 that MacGregor, who had appeared as a Fox news commentator, would be advising Miller.
MacGregor had told the network’s Tucker Carlson earlier In January, 2020: ”There is only one man who can take decisive action and end this. His name is Donald Trump,’ MacGregor said.
‘He could stand up tomorrow and pull us out, but he needs to send everyone out of the Oval Office who keeps telling him, ‘If you do that and something bad happens, it’s going to be blamed on you, Mr. President.’
His arrival came after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
‘He needs to do it,’ MacGregor concluded. ‘I think he wants to do it,’ Carlson responded.