Biden Returns to Washington, Will Deliver Remarks on Afghanistan

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
August 16, 2021 Updated: August 16, 2021

President Joe Biden returned to Washington on Monday and plans to deliver an address regarding the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

Biden touched down at Fort McNair at 1:12 p.m. The president walked to a waiting vehicle, taking no questions.

Biden will make public remarks regarding Afghanistan at 3:45 p.m., according to the White House.

Biden’s schedule initially only had one listing: a briefing at presidential retreat Camp David in Maryland, where he’s been staying for several days.

But the White House sent an update at approximately 10:59 a.m., saying Biden planned to travel to Washington in the afternoon before delivering remarks on Afghanistan at the White House.

Biden was accompanied to Washington by assistants Annie Tomasini, Yohannes Abraham, and Ashley Williams.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was already in Washington, plans to attend Biden’s speech, according to a White House official.

Biden hasn’t spoken publicly about Afghanistan since Saturday, when he said in a written statement that he had “been in close contact with my national security team to give them direction on how to protect our interests and values as we end our military mission in Afghanistan.”

The Taliban seized the presidential palace in Kabul over the weekend and is poised to declare the country an Islamic republic, a well-placed source told The Epoch Times.

Taliban officials told media outlets in Afghanistan that the conflict between the terrorist group and government forces is over.

According to some estimates, the Taliban control upwards of 90 percent of the country after decisively gaining ground in recent days as the United States pulled troops out.

U.S. Embassy staffers and officials were forced to quickly dispose of sensitive documents and rush to the airport.

Epoch Times Photo
A U.S. military helicopter flies above the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 15, 2021. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden has said he doesn’t regret authorizing the withdrawal. He blamed former President Donald Trump on Saturday for the turmoil.

“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. Forces,” he said. “Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became president, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict. I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”

Trump hit back in a series of statements, saying the way the United States has been pulling out is not in line with plans set out by the Trump administration. He urged Biden to resign.

“The outcome in Afghanistan, including the withdrawal, would have been totally different if the Trump administration had been in charge. Who or what will Joe Biden surrender to next? Someone should ask him, if they can find him,” he said.

Other Republicans also said Biden should address the nation after the major developments in Afghanistan.

“Biden hasn’t said a single word about Afghanistan on camera in close to a week,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said before Biden’s schedule was updated. “And apparently he has no plans to speak about it today either.”

“This morning, the President of the United States is still nowhere to be found & his spokesperson is on vacation,” added Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.). “Meanwhile, the Taliban freed thousands of terrorists from jail & there’s nothing Biden is doing to stop them from entering our country through the Southern border.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.