McConnell slams Biden’s ‘botched exit’ from Afghanistan

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed President Biden’s “botched exit” from Afghanistan on Sunday after the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul, having already taken control of the rest of the country.

“The Biden Administration’s botched exit from Afghanistan including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership,” McConnell wrote in a statement.

The Taliban seized control of Kabul overnight on Sunday, marking a harrowing turning point in the insurgent group’s military offensive in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country Sunday morning, and the U.S. is pulling all personnel from the embassy in Kabul.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced on Sunday night that the “safe evacuation” of embassy staff from the consulate in Kabul was complete, adding that all personnel “are located on the premises of Hamid Karzai International Airport, whose perimeter is secured by the U.S. Military.”

The escalating situation comes as the U.S. inches closer to completing its withdrawal mission from Afghanistan, which Biden previously said is set to finish at the end of this month.

A number of GOP lawmakers are placing the blame for the deteriorating state of affairs in Afghanistan on Biden, who announced in April that he would pull all troops from the country following a deal with the Taliban, brokered by former President Trump, to withdraw military personnel from the region.

Republican members of Congress went on the offensive on Sunday, blasting Biden during appearances on the Sunday show circuit.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) compared images of Chinooks over Kabul evacuating embassy staff in the capital city to America’s exit from Vietnam, calling the morning’s developments “President Biden’s Saigon moment.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Biden is “gonna have blood on his hands” for the withdrawal mission.

McConnell did not mince words in his attack on Biden on Sunday, writing that the president is responsible for the “monumental collapse” of Kabul.

“America’s two-decade involvement in Afghanistan has had many authors. So have the strategic missteps made along the way. I have never hesitated to express myself candidly when leaders of either party threatened to put politics ahead of reality on the ground,” McConnell wrote.

“But as the monumental collapse our own experts predicted unfolds in Kabul today, responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of our current Commander-in-Chief,” he added.

The sharp criticism from McConnell comes after a previous statement from the minority leader calling on the Biden administration to do more amid the advances by the Taliban.

He previously called on Biden to commit to sending more troops back into Afghanistan after Aug. 31, his target date for pulling all soldiers from the region, and urged the president to begin conducting airstrikes against the Taliban in support of the Afghan forces.

McConnell said that while the U.S. still has “the capacity to dampen its effects,” a presence on the ground is needed to do so.

“It did not have to happen this way. The United States had the capacity to avoid this disaster. We still have the capacity to dampen its effects, but without a presence on the ground or local partners, defending the homeland from a resurgent al Qaeda will be far more difficult,” he wrote.

He wrote that the “likelihood” of al Qaeda returning “to plot attacks from Afghanistan is growing,” adding that “everyone saw this coming except the President, who publicly and confidently dismissed these threats just a few weeks ago.”

“The strategic, humanitarian, and moral consequences of this self-inflicted wound will hurt our country and distract from other challenges for years to come,” McConnell added.

Via The Hill