During an interview with Axios on HBO, President Donald Trump incorrectly stated that the U.S. had helped Taliban soldiers during the Soviet War.
Trump was asked by interviewer Jonathan Swan why he did not challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Russian bounty report and that Russia has supplied weapons to the Taliban.
Swan noted that Army Gen. John Nicholson, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had said that.
“Well, we supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too,” Trump replied. “When they were fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
Trump was referring to the U.S. arming of Mujahidin guerrilla fighters, not the Taliban, from the time of the Soviet War that raged in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, when then-U.S.S.R. had entered Afghanistan to shore up the newly-established government.
When Swan pointed out to Trump “that’s a different era,” Trump replied, “I’m just saying, we did that, too.”
The Taliban actually emerged as a group much later, in the early 1990s, said to be 1994, according to the intelligence community and political scientists.
Trump did say, during the interview, that he had “heard that” Russia has armed the Taliban but the reports have “never reached” his desk.
During the interview, he was also asked about his phone call with Putin, where he said he had not discussed the intelligence reports but “numerous things” like “nuclear proliferations, which is a very big subject” and according to the president “a much bigger problem than global warming in terms of the real world.”
When Swan asked Trump if he believed in the intelligence reports, the president did not answer.
“It’s interesting, you know, nobody ever brings up China,” Trump instead said, adding, “They always bring Russia, Russia, Russia.”
He again said that the U.S. intelligence reports had not reached his desk.
“It never reached my desk, you know why? Because they didn’t think — intelligence — they didn’t think it was real,” Trump said.
“If it reached my desk, I would have done something.”