US President Joe Biden President granted an exclusive interview to ABC – his first media grilling over the situation in Afghanistan – where he doubled down on his decision to withdraw troops from the South Asian nation and acknowledged that, if needed, US forces would be staying past the 31 August deadline to evacuate all Americans.
US President Joe Biden is facing a backlash in the wake of Wednesday’s interview, where he addressed the current situation in Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban Islamist group.
Biden spoke to ABC lead anchor and former President Bill Clinton campaign director George Stephanopoulos after evading the volatile issue in an earlier speech about COVID-19 vaccine boosters and masks at the White House. Biden exited the briefing, opting not to take questions from the press corps.
An indignant Matt Whitlock, vice president of CRC Advisors, and former deputy chief of staff to now-retired Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, went on Twitter to slam the White House’s decision to opt for an exclusive sit-down with Stephanopoulos as “outrageous”.
Amid the ongoing withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country, launched in May by Biden, the Taliban* Islamist group embarked upon a massive offensive to reclaim territory. The onslaught resulted in the fall of the capital, Kabul, and collapse of the government of Ashraf Ghani, with the former president fleeing the country.
Sputnik / StringerTaliban fighters (a terrorist group banned in Russia) pose for a photo in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The administration of Joe Biden has been fending off criticism for the decision to pull out of the country.
The President, however, throughout his ABC interview, remained adamant that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was a necessity. He acknowledged on Wednesday that there was no way to avoid the mayhem that unfolded in Afghanistan over the weekend.
When George Stephanopoulos questioned Biden on his response to photos showing hundreds of Afghans crammed into a US C-17 transport airplane, with some people falling from the already airborne plane, Biden interrupted the host by saying:
When Taliban entered the Afghan capital of Kabul, a trove of images and video footage emerged online showing hundreds of Afghans flocking to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, hoping to leave the country on one of the US flights. Recordings shared online showed Afghans clinging to C-17 military transports, even as the aircraft were taxiing down the runway.
U.S. Air ForceA U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported approximately 640 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 15, 2021.
According to the video of the Biden interview, cited by Washington Times, Stephanopoulos, a former White House senior policy advisor, feebly attempted to press the POTUS further, saying, “What did you think when you first saw those pictures?”, yet failed.
Richard Grenell, ex-Trump administration official, tweeted his apparent disgust with how the anchor seemed to flounder. Grenell deplored how “activist Democrat” Stephanopoulos “let Joe Biden get away with saying the C17 liftoff was ‘4 or 5 days ago’,” when “it wasn’t”.
Others on Twitter similarly believed that the President ought to have faced a presser grilling over his administration’s role in unleashing the events currently taking place in Afghanistan.
Many saw the Biden interview with the ABC anchor as well-rehearsed, yet still peppered with “mistakes”.
Elsewhere in the interview, US President Joe Biden acknowledged that, if needed, US forces would be remaining in Afghanistan past the August deadline to evacuate all Americans.
”And if you’re American force — if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,” Biden said in the interview.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.