Trump State Department official targets Biden's 'disastrous' Afghanistan efforts as he files for Congress

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EXCLUSIVE – As he makes a second run for Congress, former State Department official Matt Mowers told Fox News that the situation in Afghanistan will be a focal point of his campaign.

“It has to be because what we’ve seen the current administration do in Afghanistan has been nothing short of disastrous. And I don’t take joy in saying that. I really don’t,” the Republican candidate in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District said. 

Mowers, a former New Hampshire GOP executive director who worked on former President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and served in the State Department during the Trump administration, on Monday filed paperwork setting up his 2022 campaign for the House.

In his first national interview since becoming a candidate, Mowers joined a growing chorus of criticism from Republicans and some Democrats who’ve taken aim at President Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal — and who’ve pilloried the president for failing to prepare for the lighting fast takeover of the war-torn Central Asian country by repressive Taliban forces.

Former Trump State Department official Matt Mowers files his candidacy for the U.S. House in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. Mowers spoke with Fox News in Gilford, New Hampshire, on Aug. 21, 2021.
(Fox News )

The U.S. has airlifted more than 116,000 people, including more than 5,500 Americans, since the Taliban captured Kabul – Afghanistan’s capital and largest city – over two weeks ago. Amid the evacuation, ISIS-K, an affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, launched an attack last Thursday on Kabul’s international airport which left 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians dead.

“It really didn’t have to be this way. I served in the State Department. Saw first-hand what it takes to make good, sound, decisions to put America’s security and national interests first while also protecting the stability of our allies around the world,” Mowers argued.

Mowers said the current situation could have been prevented. “Had they [Biden and his advisers] followed through and actually made smart, solid, decisions on this, I think you would have seen a different outcome.”

And he charged that “they did all this totally backwards. Instead of evacuating Americans first…they receded from Bagram Airbase and handed it over essentially, leaving it as a sitting duck nearly a month and a half ago… this is just poor decision making and poor judgement.”

Mowers had already left the State Department and launched his first campaign for Congress when Trump in February of last year struck a deal with the Taliban that called for all U.S. troops to depart Afghanistan by May 2021. Trump, during his watch, reduced U.S. forces to their lowest level in Afghanistan in two decades. And last year the Afghan government released thousands of Taliban prisoners, many of whom likely once again took up arms against the U.S.-backed forces.

Asked if there’s plenty of blame to go around, Mowers noted that “there have been administrations of both parties going back 20 years who’ve made mistakes in Afghanistan. Nobody has gotten this perfect.”

But he argued that the Trump administration “was looking out for the safety and security of American troops and American people on the ground” and that “if the Taliban didn’t hold up their end of the deal in working with the duly elected Afghan government, then America’s posture would change.”

Forty House Republicans and four Senate Republicans have called on Biden to resign, face impeachment, or be removed from office through the 25th Amendment.

While Mowers called Biden’s handling of Afghanistan “abysmal,” he claimed that the two impeachments of then-President Trump by the Democratic controlled House were “political” and said, “I’m not going to do the same.”

He stressed that “there is room for congressional oversight, especially once everyone is evacuated. We need congressional oversight to figure out what exactly went wrong.”

Mowers said he wants to see what comes from such investigations but that he “wouldn’t rush into calling for impeachment right now.”

Mowers came within five points of upsetting Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas last November, in one of the premier swing congressional districts in the country. National Republicans are once again targeting Pappas, who they view as vulnerable as the two-term lawmaker runs for reelection. 

Taking aim at the Democratic incumbent over Afghanistan, Mowers asked “where the heck has Chris Pappas been the past two months….The moment that it was reported that U.S. troops were withdrawing from Bagram Air Base, you knew that this was going in a bad direction.”

Pappas has called the president’s decision to stick with the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan “arbitrary and unrealistic” and urged the Biden administration to remain.

“Given the situation on the ground, we should keep U.S. military and diplomatic personnel in Kabul to ensure a full and safe evacuation. We cannot turn our backs on Afghan partners who fought alongside our service members for two decades, and we absolutely cannot risk leaving any American behind who wishes to leave,” Pappas said in a statement a week ago.

Pappas has also urged that the U.S. grant refugee status for LGBTQ+ Afghans. And in July he filed a bill that would enable federal agencies to begin relocating Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their families, for Afghans who provided critical help and support to the United States.

And following last Thursday’s horrific terrorist attack, he joined the chorus of calls calling on the administration to “hold those responsible for this despicable attack accountable while dedicating every resource to continuing the evacuation of Americans and our allies.”

But Mowers argued that “now that it’s politically convenient to do so, [Pappas] is willing to speak up, but where the heck has he been. The role of Congress should be asking these questions before these decisions lead to disastrous consequences the way they’ve happened.”

And he charged: “I don’t know if Chris Pappas has the experience, the capability, the judgement, and certainly not the willingness to speak his mind to his party leadership, to be able to ask those type of questions.”

Republicans need a net gain of just five seats in the 2022 midterm elections to regain the House majority they lost in 2018. Mowers, who joins four other Republicans in running for his party’s congressional nomination, will officially announce his candidacy next week. He told Fox News he’s “confident Republicans are going to take control of the House next November.”

And he stressed that “the folks who are part of that new class of Congress have the experience on these issues to make sound judgement that puts America’s interests first and protects our national security.”

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