House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said President Joe Biden has lost the trust and confidence of the American people because of his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal and that “there will be a day of reckoning” for the administration to explain what led to 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghan civilians being killed outside the Kabul airport.
McCarthy said the immediate focus of the United States should be to get all Americans out, and after that is done, the goal should be for Congress to get answers to who made the decisions that led to the chaotic withdrawal and death of servicemen and women.
“There will be a day of reckoning, and we have constitutional rights. Right now, in the next five days, everyone’s responsibility should only be focused on getting the Americans out. That is what we should focus on,” said McCarthy.
“When that day passes, we can take up anything to hold accountable for the actions that have been taken, the lies that have been given, the misdecisions that have put Americans in harm’s way. And a decision to leave Americans behind, that choice and that answer should never be given as a president of the United States,” continued the leader.
McCarthy said he wants an investigation into why Bagram Air Base was closed and why the United States seems to be sharing sensitive information with the Taliban in Kabul.
“Here’s an administration that said they do not trust the Taliban, but they turn around and say they depend on [the Taliban]. Why would we ever depend on the Taliban? Why wouldn’t we [have] kept Bagram to start out with? Why wouldn’t we, if we ended up in that airbase, why wouldn’t we have pushed it back out, created enough military troops to create safe passage? Why would you negotiate with the Taliban?” said McCarthy.
Biden, on Thursday, didn’t deny reports that the administration handed the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allied personnel in an attempt to grant them entry to Kabul’s international airport, saying that it “may have” happened.
“There have been occasions where our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said, ‘This bus is coming through … made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through,’” Biden said during a press briefing. “Yes, there have been occasions like that.”
Meanwhile, some Republicans have called for Biden to step down over his handling of the Afghan withdrawal, with hundreds of Americans and billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment still being in Afghanistan and under threat from the terrorist group.
“To say that today’s loss of American lives in Kabul is sickening does not begin to do justice to what has happened. It is enraging. And Joe Biden is responsible. It is now clear beyond all doubt that he has neither the capacity nor the will to lead. He must resign,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in a social media statement Wednesday.
Two suicide bombings killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 95 Afghans on Wednesday.
The ISIS terror group said it carried out the Aug. 26 bombings, which took place at or near an eastern entrance to the U.S.-held Hamid Karzai International Airport. The group said it was targeting American forces and “their spies.”
Biden vowed to retaliate and promised the evacuations would not end because of the attack.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) agreed with McCarthy that the United States should not trust the Taliban with U.S. security.
“I strongly & forcefully condemn today’s explosions outside of the Kabul airport targeting US citizens, personnel, & vulnerable Afghans trying to flee Afghanistan. As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security,” said Menendez in a social media statement on Wednesday.
Zachary Stieber and Isabel van Brugen contributed to this report.