Donald Trump denies overruling Pence and other advisers on Camp David meeting with Taliban

Michael Collins, John Fritze and Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump pushed back Monday on news reports that he overruled objections from Vice President Mike Pence and other advisers on a possible secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David.

“This Story is False!” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

Trump, who announced over the weekend that he had canceled the meeting, said he always thinks “it is good to meet and talk, but in this case I decided not to.”

Trump said Saturday that he had canceled the meeting with Taliban leaders and was suspending Afghanistan peace negotiations after the group claimed responsibility for a car bomb last week that killed an American and 11 others.

President Donald Trump

The president said that Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani were preparing to travel to the United States last weekend, presumably to finalize an agreement that has been in the works for months to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Instead, Trump said he abruptly canceled the meeting following the Taliban attack. 

On Sunday, NBC News reported that Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton both objected to the Camp David meeting while State Department officials argued it could move parties closer to a peace deal to end the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.

More: Donald Trump's secretary of state says Afghanistan talks are dead 'for now'

Speaking to reporters from the White House South Lawn, Trump insisted on Monday it was his idea to cancel the meeting.

"I didn’t discuss it with anyone else," he said before departing for a political rally in North Carolina.

Trump also defended the choice of Camp David as a meeting location, saying the presidential retreat has had many meetings with people not considered politically correct.

An alternative location for the meeting would have been the White House, he said, but, "I said I don’t like concept of having it at White House."

On Twitter, Trump dismissed reports that he had overruled Pence and Bolton on the meeting as “fake news” perpetuated by “dishonest media” to create “the look of turmoil in the White House, of which there is none.”

“I view much of the media as simply an arm of the Democrat Party,” he wrote. “They are corrupt, and they are extremely upset at how well our Country is doing under MY Leadership, including the Economy, where there is NO Recession, much to the regret of the LameStream Media!”

Pence, who generally avoids weighing in on Trump’s criticism of the media, quickly echoed the president’s point.  

“That’s Absolutely Right Mr. President. More Fake News!” Pence posted on Twitter. “The Dishonest Media never contacted our office before running with this story and if they had, we would have told them I FULLY support your decision.”

In a separate tweet, Trump said the U.S. has been serving “as policemen in Afghanistan, and that was not meant to be the job of our Great Soldiers, the finest on earth. Over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!

Trump has faced considerable backlash for planning to meet with the Taliban at Camp David.

Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress blasted him for planning to bring members of the Taliban to the U.S., specifically to Camp David, a presidential retreat for presidents used for administrations. They also criticized the timing of the meeting, which was to take place just days before the 18th anniversary terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump denies reports he overruled Pence, others on Taliban meeting