Biden news: President faces ABC news TV interview over Afghanistan today

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President says no regrets on Afghan exit as he bristles at ABC questions on airport death

President Joe Biden is set to face his first media interview over the situation in Afghanistan this evening. The president will be interviewed by ABC lead anchor and former White House communications director, George Stephanopoulos.

The first clips have been released and Mr Biden stands firm in his decision to withdraw troops, bristling when pressed on the Kabul airport chaos seen on Monday.

And he insisted that US troops would remain in the country until all Americans there have been evacuated, even if that runs past the 31 August deadline.

At a Pentagon press briefing this afternoon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley responded to news reports that there were warnings of a rapid collapse of the Afghan army by saying there was no indication from intelligence that Afghanistan’s army would deteriorate in 11 days.

A six-day work trip around the Middle East by the CIA director has also raised questions as to whether the intelligence agency was blindsided by the sudden fall of Kabul.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was pressed as to whether the military could collect people and bring them to Kabul airport, Mr Austin replied that they do not have the capabilities to extend operations in the city and convey large numbers of people to evacuation flights.

Biden administration officials will begin to answer questions before Congress as early as next week as to why such chaos erupted on the ground and why the US appeared caught off-guard by the Taliban’s sudden advance.

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Bipartisan lawmakers urge Biden administration to postpone full troop withdrawal

A bipartisan group of 44 lawmakers has urged the Biden administration to postpose the full troop withdrawal until all Afghan allies can be safely evacuated.

In an open letter the lawmakers, led by Democratic congressman Tom Malinowski, urged Joe Biden to allow those with Special Immigrant Visas, as well as “vulnerable Afghans slated for evacuation” to remain at the Kabul Airport “for as long as necessary” so that they may safely leave the country.

The letter says: “We write with a critical request: that the United States must do everything possible to securely hold the airport in Kabul until the rescue mission is complete and our citizens, allies, and vulnerable Afghans have had an opportunity to leave.

“We trust that the previous August 31 deadline you imposed on our military mission will not apply to this effort, and that we will stay as long as is necessary to complete it.

“We recognize that this is an extremely difficult endeavour. But it would be unconscionable and devastating to our credibility to leave our allies behind, given the commitments we have made.”

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 00:47

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of US politics and the situation in Afghanistan. Stay tuned for rolling updates with the latest news throughout the day.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 08:35

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White House aide clarifies comments to insist that all Americans will be brought home

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has clarified comments he made earlier, insisting that all Americans will be brought back home.

Following a White House press conference, where Mr Sullivan refused to confirm if US troops would remain in Kabul to assist with evacuations beyond the end of August, he took to Twitter to set the record straight.

On Tuesday evening, he tweeted: “When I was asked about whether we’re going to get all Americans out of Afghanistan I said ‘that’s what we intent to do’ and that’s exactly what we’ll do and are accomplishing right now with HKIA [Hamid Karzai International Airport] re-opened and operational, thanks to the incredible work of our troops and diplomats”.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 08:43

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President Joe Biden to give first interview on Afghanistan

President Joe Biden is scheduled to give his first interview on Afghanistan on Tuesday.

He will be sitting down with former White House communications director George Stephanopoulos of ABC news to speak about the US troop withdrawal and unfolding situation in the Middle Eastern country.

The interview is expected to air early in the morning in America, between 7am and 9am EST – between 12pm and 2pm GMT.

The Independent will be covering the interview live here.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 08:48

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US government watchdog issues scathing report on America’s efforts in Afghanistan

A US government watchdog has issued a scathing report on America’s efforts in Afghanistan.

The report, issued amid chaotic scenes of Afghans trying to flee the country following the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, recaps the “many failures” of the reconstruction efforts in the country over the past 20 years.

“If the goal was to rebuild and leave behind a country that can sustain itself and pose little threat to US national security interests, the overall picture is bleak,” the report says.

“The extraordinary costs were meant to serve a purpose – though the definition of purpose evolved over time,” it added.

Over the two decades the US was militarily engaged in Afghanistan, nearly USD $1 trillion was spent and 2443 US troops lost their lives, alongside 1,444 allied trips, 66,000 Afghan troops and more than 48,000 Afghan civilians.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 09:07

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President Biden ‘takes responsibility’ for Afghanistan decisions

President Biden “takes responsibility” for all Afghanistan decisions made by the US government amid the Taliban’s sweep to power across the country, the national security adviser has said.

At a White House press briefing on Tuesday, Jake Sullivan said that the president was “taking responsibility for every decision the United States government took with respect to Afghanistan because as he said, the buck stops with him.”

He added: “I am also taking responsibility, and so are my colleagues, the secretary of state, the secretary of defence, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the directors of our intelligence agencies. We as a national security team collectively take responsibility for every decision”.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 09:25

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Video appears to show desperate Afghan filming himself clinging to side of moving plane

A man appears to have filmed himself along with several others, clinging to the side of a US Air Force plane as it prepares to take off from an Afghan airport.

Those seen gripping the sides of the plane can be seen waving to crowds along the runway

Watch: Video appears to show desperate Afghan filming himself clinging to side of moving plane as it prepares for takeoff

A man appears to have filmed himself along with several others clinging to the side of a US Air Force plane as it prepares to take off from an Afghani airport.The video is thought to have been filmed at Kabul Airport on August 16 as desperate Afghan’s sought to flee the country after the Taliban claimed the capital city.Those seen gripping the sides of the craft were filmed waving to crowds lining the runway’s tarmac.It comes after a witness on the ground filmed crowds scrambling to climb onto a US military craft as it taxied down the runway.

Thousands of Afghans are increasingly desperate to flee the country after the Taliban’s victory over Afghan military forces.

While president Biden has called the anguish of trapped Afghan civilians “gut-wrenching”, and acknowledged that the Taliban achieved a much faster takeover than his administration anticipated, he has said that he stands “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw US combat forces from the country.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 09:43

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Around 1,100 Americans and permanent residents evacuated from Afghanistan on Tuesday

Around 1,100 Americans, permanent residents of the United States, and their families were evacuated by the US military on Tuesday, a White House official has said.

In a statement, the White House said: “Now that we have established the flow, we expect those numbers to escalate”.

According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby and Army Major General William Taylor, If all goes according to plan, the US hopes to ramp up to having an evacuation flight every hour, evacuating 5,000 to 9,000 people per day.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 10:01

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Trump goes off script to attack Bush in Hannity interview

On Wednesday, former president Donald Trump blasted the George W Bush administration for the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, saying that the decision “to go into the Middle East” was the “worst decision in history”.

In a televised interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Mr Trump said: “Think of it, we took this horrible place, it was the worst decision to go into the Middle East, I know that Bush family will not be happy but I believe it was the worst decision in the history of our country when we decided to go into the Middle East”.

He added: “It’s turned out to be quicksand. We’ve destroyed the Middle East, you think it’s better now than it was 20-21 years ago, it’s much worse”.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 10:19

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Biden’s approval ratings drop to the lowest level of his presidency

President Biden’s approval ratings have dropped to the lowest level of his presidency amid American displeasure at the withdrawal of troops and ensuing chaos in Afghanistan, following a 20-year military engagement.

On Monday, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 46 per cent of Americans approve of the job he is doing, representing a seven point drop from his 53 per cent approval rating on Friday.

A second Ipsos snap poll found that fewer than half of Americans liked the way the president has steered military and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan this year. Mr Biden was rated worse than Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W Bush, who presided over the war.

Celine Wadhera18 August 2021 10:37

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