‘You Can’t Have It Both Ways:’ Rep. Issa Schools Foolish Acosta Blaming Trump on Afghanistan

There’s a reason why you don’t see conservatives on CNN very often. 

Hack journalist Jim Acosta couldn’t keep up as his Republican guest, Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA], schooled him on his own show, Sunday, over President Biden’s Afghanistan debacle. Acosta repeatedly tried to blame President Trump for the Taliban takeover, but Issa exposed the journalist’s pathetic hypocrisy.

The whiny Acosta also tried to pin the congressman into a corner over “disgusting” comments made by conservative gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder, but again fell flat on his face.

Out of the gate, Acosta tried to conflate leaving Afghanistan with how Biden handled it, insisting that Trump “shouldered blame:”

What is your response to what President Biden just said a few minutes ago and doesn’t former President Trump shoulder some of the blame in all of this? He cut this deal with the Taliban. Of course, Biden embraced it and you and other Republicans up on Capitol Hill were applauding this pull out of Afghanistan months ago. The plans for it months ago. What do you say now? 

But the GOP congressman explained that Biden made this mess all on his own, reminding Acosta of the aggressive actions the Trump administration took to keep the Taliban in check:

…[W]e could go through the list of failures to make Afghanistan into a functional state. But starting in January, President Biden, to his credit, has reversed every single policy of President Donald Trump at the border or anywhere else. And this was no exception. To say that the pullout was Donald Trump’s policy is to forget that under President Trump, every time the Taliban violated their agreement, they got bombed. They got attacked. That stopped. The idea of pulling out and taking away the assets that would allow reprisals was not Donald Trump’s. That was, in fact, this administration. But right now the real challenge is there were 37 million Afghans — 

Yet Acosta persisted badgering Issa to blame Trump instead, bringing up the peace deal negotiated by Mike Pompeo. “We know who the Taliban are. And it’s not — it’s not like they were going to change their stripes overnight. And so wasn’t President Biden essentially dealing with the same people that Donald Trump was when he was president?” he pressed.

However, Issa pointed out his fatal flaw: 

You don’t get to have it both ways. You don’t get to say you’re reversing every mistake of Trump and then picking this as the one you blame on Trump because you say you didn’t reverse it,” he slammed.

Issa called out the Biden administration’s incompetence in this bungled operation:

[W]hat we have right now is we have an administration that’s telling you that things are going according to the inevitable plan, but they weren’t. Just a few weeks ago they called for 11,000 special visas to help people that helped us. 11,000. Now the number appears to be 100,000 or maybe more. They had not begun identifying those people and getting them out when, in fact, in just a few days they were supposed to have completed it–

The two kept going back and forth, with Acosta sticking to his talking points of “blame Trump” and interrupting at every corner, while Issa actually detailed how badly Biden messed this up. 

“This has been a failure to plan or a plan to fail, either way, it is a decision made by this administration, and you can’t blame the last administration. If the last administration was wrong, then, darn it, go ahead and reverse it. But if you’re going to say the last administration was right, you could at least execute it properly,” Issa scolded.

Because he was clearly not winning the argument, Acosta interrupted again to go after Larry Elder instead. The conservative talk radio host is running a close race against California Governor Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election. CNN has recently taken interest in trying to defeat that effort, by attacking Elder. Acosta did his part by playing a soundbite of Elder mocking feminists protesting against Donald Trump when he was in office.

This led to a rather humorous exchange between the huffy journalist and the unfazed congressman [click expand]:

ACOSTA: He’s made a number of disparaging remarks about women. I want you to listen to this…

LARRY ELDER:  When you look at all these women that have marched, something like 2 million women, Donald Trump had probably gotten more obese women off the couch and in the streets working out than Michelle Obama did in eight years. 

ISSA: Do you think Larry Elder should be the next governor of California? 

ISSA: I think Larry Elder, with tens of thousands of hours on the air, entertaining and thought-provoking, if that’s the most you can find–

ACOSTA: That’s not entertaining. That’s disgusting what he just said is disgusting. That’s not entertaining [shaking head]

ISSA: I appreciate, Jim, you’re saying it’s disgusting. That certainly was, by most people’s standards a quip of a radio talk show person who, like plenty of the famous ones, including Rush Limbaugh, who used various statements, including some bombastic statements from time to time to make a point. In tens of thousands of hours, if that’s the best you have, you don’t really have anything on Larry Elder. 

ACOSTA: Oh, there’s lots of other material, as you know, congressmen. We don’t have time to go through all of it…

Issa got the last word. He gave a laundry list of California’s problems, from high unemployment, to wildfires, to power outages and drought to COVID mandates that the governor ignored as reasons why half the state’s voters want him out. And since CNN would rather ignore these problems because it looks better for Newsom, for the first time, Acosta had nothing to say.

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Read the relevant transcript below:

CNN Newsroom

8/22/21

JIM ACOSTA: Of course, here are the images from 2020 of then secretary of state Mike Pompeo and the man now leading the Taliban after the Trump administration helped release him from prison. Joining me now to talk about this and the president’s address is Republican congressman Darrell Issa of California. This was more than just one president’s war, as you understand. What is your response to what President Biden just said a few minutes ago and doesn’t former President Trump shoulder some of the blame in all of this? He cut this deal with the Taliban. Of course, Biden embraced it and you and other Republicans up on Capitol Hill were applauding this pull out of Afghanistan months ago. The plans for it months ago. What do you say now? 

REP. DARRELL ISSA: …But having said that, you’re absolutely right. Four presidents, have all under their watch, had a series of failed policies. Policies about eradicating [indiscernible] that they abandoned. Policies of democracy, policies of eliminating corruption. We could go through the list of failures to make Afghanistan into a functional state. But starting in January, President Biden, to his credit, has reversed every single policy of President Donald Trump at the border or anywhere else. And this was no exception. To say that the pullout was Donald Trump’s policy is to forget that under President Trump, every time the Taliban violated their agreement, they got bombed. They got attacked. That stopped. The idea of pulling out and taking away the assets that would allow reprisals was not Donald Trump’s. That was, in fact, this administration. But right now the real challenge is there were 37 million Afghans — 

ACOSTA:  But president — if I may cut you off, congressman, I’m sorry, but all along the way, the Taliban, it’s not exactly they became the Girl Scouts overnight. The Taliban was the Taliban. And they were being invited to Camp David. Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, was cutting a peace deal with the Taliban late last year. This deal was still being honored by former President Donald Trump as he was leaving office. It’s not exactly — it’s not like the Taliban suddenly became the girl scouts. We know who the Taliban are. And it’s not — it’s not like they were going to change their stripes overnight. And so wasn’t President Biden essentially dealing with the same people that Donald Trump was when he was president?

ISSA:  You don’t get to have it both ways. You don’t get to say you’re reversing every mistake of Trump and then picking this as the one you blame on Trump because you say you didn’t reverse it. The fact is the agreement with the Taliban called for a peaceful negotiation with the existing elected government. It called for no Taliban aggressive acts and no approaching, not just the Capital but all of the regional capitals. And every time they went to do it, they got attacked by U.S.-backed troops. Usually Air Force assets and then ground Afghans. And the Afghans were doing a reasonably good job because they had confidence in the air support they were receiving. Having said that, we can blame all four presidents, if you want, but what we have right now is we have a — an administration that’s telling you that things are going according to the inevitable plan, but they weren’t. Just a few weeks ago they called for 11,000 special visas to help people that helped us. 11,000. Now the number appears to be 100,000 or maybe more. They had not begun identifying those people and getting them out when, in fact, in just a few days they were supposed to have completed it. So — 

ACOSTA: Don’t you want to help all of those vulnerable Afghans and Afghan allies and partners who were helping the U.S. Over the last 20 years. Don’t you want to help them and get them all out? 

ISSA: I’m currently doing everything I can to help the people that have been identified get out of the country. But the reality is there’s 37 million Afghans, half of them women, that are now going to have a very different future than they would have had if we had kept a stable government, enforce the agreement so the Taliban couldn’t come in by force and take over. Look, this is no different than Vietnam–

ACOSTA: The government was — I hate to keep interrupting. I’m sorry Congressman– The Afghan government was cut out of the peace talks by the Trump administration. They were negotiating directly with the Taliban. So they weren’t a factor– and that of course sends a message to the Afghan people– 

ISSA: Jim, Jim, I appreciate that, but the fact is the agreement says they had to — the Taliban had to come to a peaceful agreement with that government as part of it. So the fact that they may not have been at the table doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t have the unilateral authority. This is absolutely no different than the fall of Saigon. The fall of Saigon, you had Richard Nixon who successfully achieved peace with honor with a promise to come back and protect the South Vietnamese with the help of the politicians in Washington of both parties when they were threatened by the wrongful acts of an aggressive north Vietnam backed by the — we didn’t send troops in and they fell and the people of Vietnam have suffered for half a century as a result. And the people, 37 million-plus people are going to suffer in Afghanistan, as a result. 

​​For the last weeks and months I’ve been talking about the absurdity of predator observation aircraft and others having to fly for five to eight hours just to get to an area to look at it where previously they could do it in a matter of minutes. This has been a failure to plan or a plan to fail, either way, it is a decision made by this administration, and you can’t blame the last administration. If the last administration was wrong, then, darn it, go ahead and reverse it. But if you’re going to say the last administration was right, you could at least execute it properly. They clearly were not planning to take the people out that they’re now taking out. They hadn’t identified names. There’s a long list of — 

ACOSTA: That process was decimated during the trump administration, as you know, congressman. Some of the pro-immigration — or anti-immigration hawks inside the trump administration, all but shut down much of that process for bringing those folks into the country. 

And so the Biden administration by and large is having to rebuild all of it.

ISSA: I appreciate your saying it, and I appreciate it’s your opinion. The fact is, although the administration reduced the number of certain types of Visas, those number of Visas rise and fall regularly and they — the system was not shut down. But that doesn’t really say anything about — 

ACOSTA: Well the numbers plummeted. The numbers plummeted, towards the end of the Trump administration. 

ACOSTA: Right now the Republican front-runner is an outspoken talk show host named Larry Elder. He’s made a number of disparaging remarks about women. I want you to listen to this. Let me ask you about this on the other side. 

LARRY ELDER:  When you look at all these women that have marched, something like 2 million women, Donald Trump had probably gotten more obese women off the couch and in the streets working out than Michelle Obama did in eight years. 

ISSA: Do you think Larry Elder should be the next governor of California? 

ISSA: I think Larry Elder, with tens of thousands of hours on the air, entertaining and thought-provoking, if that’s the most you can find–

ACOSTA: That’s not entertaining. That’s disgusting what he just said is disgusting. That’s not entertaining [shaking head]

ISSA: I appreciate, Jim, your saying it’s disgusting. That certainly was, by most people’s standards a quip of a radio talk show person who, like plenty of the famous ones, including Rush Limbaugh, who used various statements, including some bombastic statements from time to time to make a point. In tens of thousands of hours, if that’s the best you have, you don’t really have anything on Larry Elder. 

ACOSTA: Oh, there’s lots of other material, as you know, congressmen. We don’t have time to go through all of it. But it sounds as though you’re saying Larry Elder would make a better governor for the state of California than Gavin Newsom? Is that what you’re saying? Talk show host?

ISSA:  There’s 41 people running or 44 people running, and I suspect the vast majority of them would go in the right direction better than our current governor. No question at all. The reason that decline to states support the recall that Republicans support the recall and a vast amount of Democrats. When you get a state that’s two-thirds Democrat and 50% plus or minus a percent believe that the governor should be recalled, you are talking about people who have lost faith in their governor.  So if the fact is, it’s not Republican Darrell Issa saying it. It’s the polls that consistently show that half of Californians have lost faith in this governor …

I support the fact that Larry Elder has been a thoughtful spokesperson, but he’s also been a commentator. He said a lot of things. But if in tens of thousands of hours, you find a few lines, that’s not going to get people to forget that he is a thoughtful conservative who has a lot of great ideas.

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