On the 18th anniversary of 9/11, President Donald Trump delivered remarks at the Pentagon, where he told the crowd that “for every American who lived through that day, the September 11 attack is seared into our soul.” But Trump's 9/11 anniversary speech for 2019 also included significant threats — just days after canceling a Camp David meeting with the Taliban.
According to The Washington Post, Trump had originally invited Afghan and Taliban leaders to Camp David to conduct peace negotiations. On Sept. 8, however, Trump announced that the summit — which he had not previously disclosed to the public — would not be happening after all. The president said that he had decided to cancel the summit after the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed an American soldier. Trump doubled down on his decision to cancel the Camp David summit during his 9/11 remarks at the Pentagon, and issued a severe warning to the Taliban.
"They thought they would use this attack to show strength, but actually, what they showed is unrelenting weakness," Trump told attendees. "The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever hit before and that will continue."
In his speech, Trump applauded first responders, firefighters, members of the military, and civilians for their rescue efforts in the aftermath of 9/11. However, while the president discussed 9/11 at length, he also threatened the Taliban with significant military action moving forward.
"If for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are and use power the likes of which the United States has never used before," Trump added, "and I'm not even talking about nuclear power. They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them." Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on Trump's speech and the threats in it, but did not immediately hear back.
According to CNN, Trump has made threats like this before, but never in the context of a 9/11 commemoration or memorial. In the months prior to his threats, however, NPR reported that Trump was keen to orchestrate a peace agreement between Afghan leadership and the Taliban. On Sept. 2, for example, Al Jazeera reported that the United States was slated to withdraw its troops from five Afghan bases after negotiating a deal with the Taliban.
But while Trump was eager to continue these negotiations on American soil, senior administration officials like former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly opposed the Camp David summit, in part due to the impending anniversary of 9/11. Shortly thereafter, on Sept. 10, Bolton issued a resignation letter — though it's unclear if Trump asked for his resignation or not, per The New York Times. Elite Daily has reached out to the White House for comment on the nature of Bolton's departure.
During his remarks at the Pentagon, Trump also went into detail about his own memories of 9/11, and he recalled "looking out of a window from a building in midtown Manhattan directly at the World Trade Center when I saw the second plane at a tremendous speed go into the second tower."
“It was then that I realized the world was going to change," Trump said, per The Hill. “Soon after, I went down to ground zero with men who worked for me to try to help in any little way that we could. We were not alone."
Trump made a similar claim earlier this summer, saying on July 29 that he had spent significant amounts of time helping first responders with recovery efforts at ground zero. However, former New York Fire Department deputy chief Richard Alles and New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman have both said that Trump was not nearly as present at ground zero as he claimed to have been. Elite Daily has reached out to the White House for comment on Trump's presence — or lack thereof — at ground zero in the days and months after 9/11.
This year, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, Trump is, as ever, doing his own thing. On all fronts.