Joe loses his grip on reality: President claims ‘no one is being killed’ in the Kabul airport chaos despite 12 confirmed deaths and says he can’t ‘recall’ if he was told to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan

  • President Joe Biden insisted his military advisers did not tell him to keep a U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan
  • ‘No one said that to me that I can recall,’ he told ABC News in his first interview since the Taliban take over 
  • He said his top brass did not argue that all troops would be pulled from Afghanistan ‘in a time frame’  
  • There were multiple warnings, however, and The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley wanted to keep 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan
  • He also insisted ‘no one is being killed’ in the chaos surrounding the Kabul airport despite 12 confirmed deaths
  • Biden also said in the interview that he would have withdrawn troops from even without Donald Trump’s deal – in a stark reversal of blaming the situation on his predecessor 
  •  This was the first time Biden faced questions from media over his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan 
  • Biden chose former Bill Clinton aide Stephanopoulos for the interview and hasn’t taken questions from other members of the media for nine days

Joe Biden said he can’t ‘recall’ if he was warned to maintain a troop presence in Afghanistan and insisted ‘no one is being killed’ during the chaos at the Kabul airport in a series of confusing comments in his first interview on the bungled withdrawal and the Taliban’s takeover.

He also said he would have still pulled troops from Afghanistan without former President Donald Trump’s deal to get everyone out by May 1 in a reversal of his finger-pointing at his predecessor for the chaos.

‘Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline – they wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops,’ ABC’s George Stephanopoulos said to Biden in an interview that aired Thursday morning.

‘No, they didn’t,’ the president pushed back. ‘It was split. That wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.’

‘They didn’t tell you they wanted troops to stay?’ Stephanopoulos asked.

‘No, not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a time frame – all troops, they didn’t argue against that,’ Biden reiterated.

There were multiple warnings from top brass and military intelligence officials who cautioned against a total withdrawal from Afghanistan, claiming the situation was ripe for the Taliban to take over.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Biden knew the risks of a total troop pull out and went forward with it anyway despite objections and warnings from his team.

Biden also said in the interview that chaos in Kabul was inevitable – months after saying it was not – and snapped at a question over photos of Afghans falling from planes and packing a C-17 while trying desperately to flee the Taliban.

The president’s performance was blasted from all arenas with Republicans and Democrats branding Biden ‘shameful’ and calling for him to ‘take responsibility’ for the scenes of violence and disorder in recent days as thousands attempted to flee while the Taliban advanced.

He falsely claimed, at one point, that ‘no one is being killed’ in the chaotic scenes around the Kabul airport – despite 12 confirmed deaths.

‘We have control of the airport now,’ Biden said as he lauded what has been widely viewed as missteps in evacuating Americans and allies from Afghanistan.

Stephanopoulos pushed back: ‘Still a lot of pandemonium outside the airport.’

‘Oh, there is,’ the president admitted in the interview.

‘But no one’s being killed right now,’ he claimed. ‘God forgive me if I’m wrong about that, but no one’s being killed right now.’

So far there are a dozen confirmed deaths since the Taliban took over Kabul on Sunday when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

A 14-year-old girl was killed in a stampede at the Hamid Karzai International Airport and her family released images of her body on Thursday in an attempt to draw attention to the plight of Afghans desperate to get on an evacuation flight.

Marzia Rahmati is believed to be one of the youngest of the 12 victims who have died in the disorder at Kabul airport since the Taliban took over.

Others were killed when they were run over by aircraft rolling down the runway at the Kabul airport and two were shot by U.S. military personnel at the airport.

Two people were seen plummeting to their deaths from a U.S. Air Force plane on Monday as they clung to the side of the aircraft when it taxied away from Hamid Karzai International.

Of the horrific scenes at the airport, including the two who fell hundreds of feet to their death, Biden dismissed it as something that happened ‘days ago.’

He appeared pleasantly surprised that the Taliban were letting Washington evacuate Americans from Afghanistan without issue, but said his administration was having ‘more difficulty’ evacuating Afghans who helped the U.S. military and now have Taliban targets on their backs.

Biden snapped back at Stephanopoulos when he was questioned about footage of two Afghans falling to their deaths after clinging to the wheels of a U.S. evacuation flight from Kabul on Monday, brushing off the harrowing images.

‘We’ve all seen the pictures. We’ve seen those hundreds of people packed into a C-17. You’ve seen Afghans falling –’ Stephanopoulos said before being cut off by the president.

‘That was four days ago, five days ago,’ Biden quipped.

‘What did you think when you first saw those pictures?’

‘What I thought was we have to gain control of this,’ he said. ‘We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. And we did.’

Biden promised to get Americans and allies, including interpreters, out of Afghanistan.

‘We got 1,000-somewhat, 1,200 out, yesterday, a couple thousand today. And it’s increasing,’ he told Stephanopoulos. ‘We’re gonna get those people out.’

The president admitted during his interview, which was taped at the White House on Wednesday, that he would have still withdrawn troops from Afghanistan without the deal Trump reached for a total withdrawal by May 1.

‘I would have tried to figure out how to withdraw those troops, yes,’ he said.

The comment is a stunning reversal of Biden playing the blame game and insisting he didn’t have a choice but to withdraw because of the last administration’s negotiations.

The Journal reported the president ignored Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley’s request to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and did not yield Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s warning about the stability of the country without a U.S. troop presence.

Biden pushed back against that report in his first interview since the Taliban overtook the country and chaotic scenes emerged from Kabul where hundreds of Afghan citizens overran the Hamid Karzai International Airport in an attempt to get on evacuation flights.

Stephanopoulos pressed the president on the report: ‘Your military advisers did not tell you, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops, it’s been a stable situation for the last several years, we can do that, we can continue to do that?’

‘No, no one said that to me that I can recall,’ Biden said.

A top general who was put in charge of withdrawing all 2,500 remaining American troops from Afghanistan warned earlier this summer that the Taliban’s push to take parts of the country were ‘concerning’ and warned the withdrawal could lead to a civil war.

‘I think what you’re seeing — just if you look at the security situation — it’s not good,’ General Austin Scott Miller told ABC News in an interview in June. ‘The Afghans have recognized it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move.’

‘If you go back to what the Taliban’s objectives are, they want to take over and so at some point that implies that at some point they are in Kabul,’ he warned at the time. ‘And certainly some of them remember what it was like the last time under with the Taliban regime.’

Miller said the U.S. was ‘creating conditions’ that could contribute to a Taliban take over.

Biden explained in his interview that the recent ‘stability’ ahead of the withdrawal was not due to a military presence, but because there was a promise that U.S. troops would leave within a certain time frame.

‘The reason why it’s been stable for a year is because the last president said, ‘We’re leaving and here’s the deal I want to make with you, Taliban. We’re agreeing to leave if you agree not to attack us between now and the time we leave on May the 1st,’ Biden detailed.

‘Less than two months after I elected to office, I was sworn in, all of a sudden, I have a May 1 deadline,’ he continued.

Biden said ‘there is no good time to leave Afghanistan.’

‘Fifteen years ago it would have been a problem, 15 years from now,’ he said. ‘The basic choice is, am I going to send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan in perpetuity?

‘No one can name for me a time when this would end. And what constitutes defeat of the Taliban? What constitutes defeat? Would we have left then?’ the president questioned the ABC News host.

‘Let’s say they surrender like before – OK. Do we leave then? Do you think anybody – the same people who think we should stay would’ve said, ‘No, good time to go’? We spent over $1 trillion, George, 20 years. There was no good time to leave.’

Biden said that there was ‘no consensus’ in intelligence reports or military recommendations that the Taliban would overrun the government – referencing his July comments were he said the Islamic militant group’s total take over was ‘highly unlikely.’

‘The idea that the Taliban would take over was premised on the notion that the – that somehow, the 300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was gonna just collapse, they were gonna give up. I don’t think anybody anticipated that,’ he said.

Biden insisted that he handled the situation in the best way possible, despite a slew of criticism.

‘You don’t think this could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?’ Stephanopoulos asked Biden.

‘No, I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that – we’re going to go back in hindsight and look but the idea that somehow there is a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happened,’ he responded.

He also promised to get Americans and allies, including interpreters, out of Afghanistan.

‘We got 1,000-somewhat, 1,200 out, yesterday, a couple thousand today. And it’s increasing,’ he told Stephanopoulos. ‘We’re gonna get those people out.’

Americans in Afghanistan, however, are getting some mixed signals from the U.S. government on what to do – with the State Department claiming Monday they should shelter in place and then the Defense Department saying on Wednesday that the Taliban was instructed to let those with the proper paperwork through checkpoints and into the airport.

But ex-pats and western visa holders claim they cannot get ‘anywhere near’ the Kabul airport on Thursday because ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ are blocking the way.

Videos captured snapshots of the chaos as gunmen fired shots over the heads of panicked crowds while hitting people with rifles – as those on the ground said Taliban fighters were dishing out beatings and lashings seemingly at random, with people being trampled and crushed in the throng.

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, a former Marine who now lives in Kabul with his wife, described the scene as a ‘clusterf***’, telling ‘Two ex-pats – one British and one Norwegian – have already been forced to turn back this morning because they can’t get through.’

‘And last night a UN convoy carrying various foreign nationals, who had been working in Afghanistan for NGOs, had to turn round because of the sheer volume of people on the street,’ he added.

There are 12 confirmed deaths in the chaos around and at the Kabul airport so far.


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