A defiant President Joe Biden rejected blame for chaotic scenes in Kabul. Afghans clung to U.S. military planes in Kabul in a desperate bid to flee their home country after the Taliban’s easy victory over an Afghan military that America and NATO allies had spent two decades trying to build.
Behind the scenes, conservative activist Jack Posobiec reported that Vice President Kamala Harris and the president’s office have been involved in a “shade war” — a growing rivalry — in recent months.
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During the Taliban rout of Afghanistan, that “shade war” became explosive according to an unnamed White House source.
Posobiec said Biden had pressured Harris’ office to make a statement on Afghanistan.
“Shade War going hot – Kamala refused a request to do a presser today. Said she was focused on Haiti not Afghanistan. Now staffers for the rival teams have been openly fighting all day, per WH official,” Posobiec reported
Shade War going hot – Kamala refused a request to do a presser today. Said she was focused on Haiti not Afghanistan. Now staffers for the rival teams have been openly fighting all day, per WH official
— Jack Posobiec ???????? (@JackPosobiec) August 16, 2021
Other reports out of the White House said the exchange was even more dramatic.
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Harris refused to hold a press briefing during a screaming fit heard by White House sources, conservative journalist Kyle Becker reported.
The vice president reportedly doesn’t want the American people to blame her for the disastrous withdrawal.
Harris was reportedly pressed to give an update on Afghanistan to the American people but refused.
White House source says Kamala Harris could be heard screaming today: “They will not pin this s*** on me!”
— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) August 16, 2021
At the White House, Biden on Monday called the anguish of trapped Afghan civilians “gut-wrenching” and conceded the Taliban had achieved a much faster takeover of the country than his administration had expected.
The U.S. rushed back troops to protect its own evacuating diplomats and others at the Kabul airport.
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Despite declaring “the buck stops with me,” Biden placed almost all blame on Afghans for the shockingly rapid Taliban conquest.
His grim comments were his first to the world since the biggest foreign policy crisis the United States has faced in decades. Emboldened by the U.S. withdrawal, Taliban fighters swept across the country last week and easily captured the capital, Kabul, on Sunday, after U.S.-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country.
Biden said he had warned Ghani — who was appointed Afghanistan’s president in a U.S.-negotiated agreement — to be prepared to fight a civil war with the Taliban after U.S. forces left. “They failed to do any of that,” he said.
The humiliating scenes seemed certain to give comfort to American foes.
At home, it all sparked sharp criticism, even from members of Biden’s own political party, who implored the White House to do more to rescue fleeing Afghans, especially those who had aided the two-decade American military effort.
“We didn’t need to be seeing the scenes that we’re seeing at Kabul airport with our Afghan friends climbing aboard C-17s,” said Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat who is also an Iraq and Afghanistan military veteran.
He said that is why he and others called for the evacuations to start months ago. “It could have been done deliberately and methodically,” Crow said. “And we think that that was a missed opportunity.”
Besides the life-and-death situation in Kabul, the timing of the crisis was a serious blow to Biden’s domestic efforts at home. It could well weaken his political standing as he works to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and build congressional support for a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and an even larger, Democrat-only $3.5 trillion spending package.
The Associated Press contributed to this article