President Joe Biden has been on vacation for most of the week, and on Friday, he’s got an ultra-light schedule before he heads back home to Delaware.
The president is scheduled to have his daily national security briefing at 10 a.m., then a 10:45 a.m. meeting in the White House Situation Room on the situation in Afghanistan. At 1 p.m. he delivers remarks “on the evacuation of American citizens and their families” from Kabul, and at 2:05 p.m. he’ll be on a helicopter heading to Wilmington, Delaware.
Meanwhile, Press Secretary Jen Psaki won’t be taking questions from reporters, the second straight day she has dodged the press.
The trip, Biden’s 18th since taking office, comes amid criticism of the president for being at Camp David in Maryland last weekend as the Taliban rapidly swept through Afghanistan — then returning there immediately after he delivered a White House speech about the situation. He returned to the White House so he could sit down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for an interview, which turned into a train wreck.
“We’ve all seen the pictures. We’ve seen those hundreds of people packed in a C-17. We’ve seen Afghans falling,” Stephanopoulos said before an angry Biden interrupted him.
“That was four days ago, five days ago!” the president said. In reality, it was two days before the interview.
At another point, the former press secretary to President Bill Clinton asked if the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan could have been done better.
“No. I don’t think it could’ve been handled in a way that — we’re going to go back in hindsight and look but the idea that somehow there was a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” Biden said.
“So for you, that was always priced in the decision?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Yes,” Biden answered.
Biden has hunkered down amid the disaster in Afghanistan. Neither he nor any White House spokesman made comments on Thursday. In fact, Biden has taken no questions from the press since Kabul fell.
Vice President Kamala Harris has also avoided the press and is set to head off this weekend on a trip to Asia that includes a stop in Vietnam. The fall of Kabul has brought comparisons to the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, when U.S. personnel had to be rescued from the embassy there.
New York Post columnist Miranda Devine said Thursday that Harris is trying to stay as far away from Biden as possible.
Devine said Harris “is likely trying to keep her reputation more intact as Biden’s leadership is questioned and Afghanistan crumbles before the Taliban, suggesting the vice president may believe she will ascend to the presidency sooner than later given the current conditions,” Devine wrote for Fox News.
“Unfortunately this has been a debacle in Afghanistan and Joe Biden owns it, and he stinks of failure and defeat, and she wants to be as far away from that as she possibly can,” Devine said.
“It’s quite a betrayal of the vice president not to be standing by the president’s side who’s now given two sort of ‘speeches,’ I guess you could call them, since Friday. And it is quite remarkable that she has decided not to show solidarity with the president — it tells you where the White House is. And she, I suppose, is thinking she will be stepping into the president’s shoes,” Devine added.