McConnell blasts Biden on Afghanistan: ‘He owns it’

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) arrives to the Capitol on Saturday, August 7, 2021 for a weekend session to finish up work on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Greg Nash

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted President Biden on Monday over the rapid collapse in Afghanistan, saying that “he owns it.”

McConnell’s comments, spread out over a press conference in Kentucky and media interviews on Monday, come as Biden is facing fierce criticism over his handling of the exit strategy in Afghanistan including public worries from Democrats about the fate of tens of thousands of Afghans and their families who aided the U.S. military over the past two decades.

“I think Afghanistan is lost. Every terrorist around the world is cheering in Syria, in Yemen, in Africa. They’ve watched the Taliban … defeat America in effect,” McConnell said during a press conference in Kentucky.

“It’s a sad day for the United States of America. … He owns it,” he added.

McConnell, in an interview with Kentucky TV station WDRB, called the Taliban’s surge in Afghanistan, including entering Kabul and taking over the presidential palace, an “unmitigated disaster.” 

Biden has ramped up the U.S. military presence in recent days to secure Kabul’s airport and allow for flights after the Pentagon said earlier Monday that no flights were leaving or landing due to a security breach on the civilian side of the airport.

U.S. personnel as well as Afghans who aided the U.S. military and are now at risk of being killed by the Taliban still need to be evacuated from Afghanistan. Democrats are publicly urging the Biden administration to expedite the processing for tens of thousands of Afghans and their families who are stuck in the pipeline.

McConnell, like several members of Congress, said Monday that his office has gotten calls asking for help from individuals with family members in Afghanistan.

“I hope the president will put in enough troops to get out as many people as possible. Not only all the Americans obviously, but those who worked with us, who depended on us,” McConnell said.

He added that “this administration looks to me like it couldn’t organize a two-car funeral” but says Biden should put in place “enough troops in and around Kabul” to evacuate Americans and Afghans who assisted the United States out of the country.

Former President Trump previously announced, as part of negotiations with the Taliban, that he would withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1. Biden then announced in April a Sept. 11 deadline, though he’s sped that up.

Asked about Trump, McConnell, who frequently declined to directly mention the former president, noted that he had made a similar argument against withdrawing U.S. troops to the previous administration.

“I argued against it with President Trump, too. I made the same argument to President Trump,” he said.

Tags Afghanistan Donald Trump Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Taliban

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