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President Trump speaks during a surprise Thanksgiving day visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan in 2019. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's campaign on Saturday firmly rejected the Taliban's endorsement of him ahead of next month's U.S. presidential election.

Driving the news: Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News the militant Afghan group admires the president's "America first" focus and that "Trump might be ridiculous for the rest of the world, but he is sane and wise man for the Taliban."

"We hope he will win the election and wind up U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. When we heard about Trump being COVID-19 positive, we got worried for his health, but seems he is getting better."
— Mujahid to CBS
  • Another senior Taliban member told CBS, "Honestly, Trump was much more honest with us than we thought, even we were stunned with his offer to meet Taliban in Camp David" — in reference to a meeting that the president said he called off after a 2019 bombing in Kabul killed an American soldier and 11 other people.

What they're saying: Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said in an emailed statement, "We reject their support and the Taliban should know that the President will always protect American interests by any means necessary, unlike Joe Biden who opposed taking out Osama bin Laden and Qasem Soleimani."

The big picture: The U.S. reached an agreement with the Taliban in February to begin a gradual drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan. U.S. troops began withdrawing from the country under the peace agreement the following month.

  • National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said last Wednesday the U.S. would cut its number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early 2021.
  • Later Wednesday, President Trump tweeted without further elaboration, "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!"

The other side: The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on the Trump campaign's claims about the former vice president's stance on bin Laden and Soleimani.

  • However, Biden said in 2012 that he told then-President Obama "don’t go" and launch the mission that killed the al-Qaeda leader bin Laden, but later said he should do checks and follow his instincts on the matter, per Politifact.
  • On Soleimani, Biden said last January the leader of the elite Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps "deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region." He added the decision to kill him in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq was "a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region."

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.