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Tipsheet

John Kirby Blames Trump for U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Speaking to reporters from the White House on Thursday, National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said that President Joe Biden is “proud” of the Afghanistan withdrawal in 2021 and blamed former President Donald Trump for the issues during the evacuation.

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On Thursday, the Biden administration decided to release a document detailing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after being in the country for two decades. At the briefing, Kirby explained what was in the document and took questions about the withdrawal from reporters.

Before delving into the decisions made in the Afghanistan withdrawal, Kirby said that the U.S. withdrawal now allows the government to support Ukraine in the war against Russia.

Kirby then opened his remarks by blaming former President Donald Trump for the Biden administration's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, where 13 U.S. service members died in August 2021.

“While it was always the president’s intent to end that war [in Afghanistan], it was also undeniable that decisions made and the lack of planning done by the previous administration significantly limited options available to him [Biden],” Kirby said, said that the programs Biden inherited that pertained to Afghanistan were “starved of resources.” 

“Transitions matter; that’s the first lesson learned here. And the incoming administration wasn’t afforded much of one,” he added. “Thus, President Biden’s choice was stark.” He then called Biden’s decisions “inclusive.”

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“No agency predicted a Taliban takeover in nine days,” Kirby said. “No agency predicted the rapid fleeing of President Ghani, who had indicated to us his intent to remain in Afghanistan up until he departed on the 15th of August. And, no agency predicted that the more than 300,000 trained and equipped Afghan National Security and Defense Forces would fail to fight for their country, especially after 20 years of American support.”

Kirby then said that the Afghanistan withdrawal sparked the Biden administration to create a group of experts for “worst case scenario planning on Ukraine.” 

Kirby then briefly mentioned the 13 service members who died in an attack near the Kabul airport during the withdrawal. 

“We will always remember the bravery and the selflessness of every member of the military, the foreign service, the intelligence community and the civil service who made possible the largest airlift evacuation in military history and all under the constant threat of attack,” Kirby said. “They ended our nation’s longest war.”

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In 2021, during a dignified transfer for the fallen troops, Biden was seen staring at his watch, which Townhall reported.

When Kirby opened up to questions, a reporter immediately pointed out that the press was never given heads-up about this particular briefing. In addition, the reporters were given documents only 10 minutes in advance, not enough time to thoroughly read it.

“Why today? Is this all we get?” the reporter pressed. 

“We felt it was the responsible thing to do,” Kirby answered.

To follow up, another reporter asked if the president has regrets about how the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal was conducted. 

Kirby claimed that the president is “very proud” in how it was carried out. He struggled saying that the men and women who served in Afghanistan should feel proud.

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The reporter who spoke first then pointed out that the documents given to the press do not show the Biden administration taking responsibility for the withdrawal.

“Nowhere in here does there appear to be any expression of accountability or mistake by the president himself or others. Is there any from what happened?” the reporter asked. 

Kirby said that “the fact I’m up here talking to you about it [the withdrawal] shows how seriously the president felt about learning lessons from this withdrawal.” 

Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked if anyone within the administration would lose their job over the way the Afghanistan withdrawal was carried out. 

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“Who’s going to get fired over this?” Doocy asked. 

“Peter, the purpose of the document that we’re putting out today is to sort of collate the chief reviews and findings of the agencies that did after-action review. The purpose of it is not accountability. The purpose of it is to study lessons learned,” Kirby responded.

When reporters began pointing out the withdrawal's chaos, including the footage of people falling off of airplanes leaving Kabul, Kirby said: “I’m sorry, I just don’t buy the whole argument of chaos. It was tough in the first few hours. You would expect it to be.”

Wrapping up, Kirby said that the U.S. is “on a stronger strategic footing” because of the Afghanistan withdrawal and again pointed to Ukraine. He then claimed that “America’s footing on the global stage is a lot stronger now” that Trump isn’t in office. When a reporter pointed out that the document does not address the billions of dollars of equipment left in Afghanistan, he said the Afghans were responsible.

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“It is the Afghans who are responsible for the turnover of all that equipment,” he said.


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