Former President Donald Trump secretly signed a memo just days after his election defeat that would have withdrawn all remaining US troops from Afghanistan, just five days before he left office, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, Peril.
The memo, which the book says was withdrawn after top military and national security officials left out of production intervened with Trump, came months before the Biden administration was set to oversee a sudden withdrawal — which Trump described as chaotic and would be labeled disorganized.
The Nov. 11 memo, titled “Memorandum to the Acting Secretary of Defense: Withdrawal from Somalia and Afghanistan,” stunned Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, according to Peril, of which Woodward co-wrote with journalist Robert Costa.
New acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller and his chief of staff Kash Patel were also caught off guard.
President Donald Trump has signed a secret memo calling for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Jan. 15, 2021 — just five days before he left office, but top security officials rushed to wipe it out, according to Bob’s new book Woodward
The memo instructed the new acting Pentagon chief to withdraw all troops from the country “by January 15, 2021.”
The book is quoted as saying Milley to Miller and Patel, “This is really twisted and I’m going to the president. I am going there. You can come or not,” before they go to the White House.
He then showed it to Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, who also hadn’t 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 to meet with this top security team.
New acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller was blown away by the order when they heard about it
According to the book, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien went to former President Trump to have the memo revoked
Trump had failed to complete troop withdrawal by the end of his presidency, and the Biden administration rushed to withdraw troops and equipment after the government fell in Kabul
According to Woodward’s account, Army Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley went to the White House to try to retract the memo.
Woodward and Costa called it a “rogue memo,” and O’Brien was apparently able to dispense with it.
“We’ve already arranged this. It was a mistake. The memo has been annulled,” he told the Pentagon buyer.
The episode comes from a book detailing how Milley feared Trump was “mentally declining” after the election — and took extraordinary actions to reach out to his Chinese counterpart and secure nuclear weapons.
Trump accused Milley of treason over the incident in a blistering statement on Tuesday night.
The existence of a memo with a withdrawal date just days before Trump was due to leave office comes amid heated clashes over Biden’s own withdrawal.
Biden has blamed Trump for negotiating a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, executing it after a single extension of an April deadline.
Trump criticized Biden’s withdrawal 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 made sure the Taliban never got there.” would think of taking our embassy or a base for new attacks on America,” Trump said. “The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground.”
Trump had repeatedly called for an end to US wars during his tenure, negotiating troop presence there to 2,500 before dropping to zero.
axios in May, notice of the memo’s existence. It said it was drafted by former Trump body man Johnny McEntee, who took on a prominent role in the final months of Trump’s presidency, as well as retired Lt. Col. Douglas MacGregor, an adviser to Miller.
McEntee had a personnel office in the White House at a time when Trump was trying to install loyalists into the administration.
They delivered the memo two days after Trump instructed McEntee, according to the report.
According to that report, McEntee handed MacGregor a short note stating what the president wanted him to do. It read: ‘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 didn’t announce until November 11, 2020 that MacGregor, who had appeared as a Fox news commentator, would advise Miller.
MacGregor had told Tucker Carlson of the network earlier In January 2020: “There is only one man who can take decisive action and put an end to this. His name is Donald Trump,” MacGregor said.
“He can get up tomorrow and get us out, but he has to send anyone out of the Oval Office who keeps telling him, ‘If you do that and something bad happens, you’ll be blamed, Mr. President.’
His arrival came after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“He has to do it,” MacGregor concluded. “I think he wants to do it,” Carlson replied.