Vice President Kamala Harris has been laying low this week following the chaotic and deadly U.S. pullout from Afghanistan while President Joe Biden and his national security team have taken the brunt of the criticism, though earlier this year she boldly claimed to be intimately involved in the decision to withdraw.
In April, after Biden made the announcement that he was ordering all U.S. personnel out of the war-torn country after two decades, Harris appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” program and bragged to host Dana Bash that she was “the last person in the room” with the president at the time.
“And you feel comfortable [with Biden’s decision]?” Bash pressed during the interview.
“I do, and I’m going to add to that,” Harris said. “This is a president who has an extraordinary amount of courage. He is someone who I have seen over and over again make decisions based on what he truly believes — based on his years of doing this work and studying these issues — what he truly believes is the right thing to do.”
But as the New York Post noted Wednesday, Harris hasn’t been seen in public since Aug. 12, a week ago today, as shocking and horrendous images have filtered across airwaves and on social media as the Taliban strengthen their grip on the country. Then, she ended a meeting early with CEOs to talk about the administration’s proposals on child care so she could attend a briefing by intelligence officials on the rapid Taliban advance toward Kabul.
“Since then, she has only appeared in still photos put out by the White House. Her only public statements have been on Twitter. She was not by Biden’s side, as she has been on other occasions, when he attempted to defend his decision to withdraw all US combat forces from Afghanistan in a White House address Monday,” The Post pointed out.
The vice president reportedly participated in video conferences over the weekend as the situation grew worse for the remaining U.S. military forces and diplomatic personnel, discussing developments with national security officials.
Photos that were mocked — and criticized — after they were posted on social media showed Harris as one of many pictured on various screens during a teleconference with Biden who was seated by himself in the situation room at Camp David.
They outed Intel officials and had the world clock wrong – all in one photo.
No wonder they can’t get the details right.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 18, 2021
After the president gave an address to the nation about the situation in Afghanistan on Monday in which he was widely criticized for pointing several fingers of blame, Harris wrote on Twitter: “For two decades, our courageous servicemembers put their lives on the line in Afghanistan. We will always be grateful—and proud.”
She would add: “Ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is the right decision.”
Tuesday, Harris posted another tweet, repeating her support for the withdrawal, even as the situation on the ground became more chaotic as Biden was forced to order thousands more U.S. troops back to the international airport in Kabul: “We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago. Now, our mission is to get our people, our allies, and vulnerable Afghans to safety outside of the country.”
And then Wednesday morning, the White House tweeted a photo of Harris sitting to Biden’s right looking down at a briefing book as he met with his national security team.
This morning, the President and Vice President were briefed by their national security team on the evolving situation in Afghanistan. They discussed the evacuations of U.S. citizens, SIV applicants, and vulnerable Afghans, and the monitoring of any potential terrorist threats. pic.twitter.com/aRejPzOhgp
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 18, 2021
Thursday, the VP is scheduled for an address to the National Association of Black Journalists and on Friday she will depart for Singapore and Vietnam, where she will likely face pointed questions about the U.S. security commitment to the region following the Afghanistan debacle and amid new, bellicose rhetoric from China.
There is another possibility for Harris’ low profile: Political self-preservation.
Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday claimed that Harris was keen not to be seen as responsible in any way for the withdrawal despite her earlier public praise of Biden and her support for his decision.
Rumor has it that the vice president’s desperate to prevent blame for the debacle being pinned on her. Multiple small news publications reported on an anonymous White House insider who said that Kamala Harris was heard screaming on Sunday, “They will not pin this s*** on me!”
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