CNN anchor Brianna Keilar cornered White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield over Biden’s botched handling of Afghanistan and the efforts to evacuate thousands of Americans trapped behind enemy lines who are now at the mercy of the Taliban.
The interview took place on Friday morning on “New Day.” Bedingfield rushed to assure Americans that President Biden is “laser-focused” on getting Americans and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan. Keilar wasn’t entirely buying what she was selling.
“So where are the issues then? What issues are you addressing to get to that number?” Keilar asked regarding the number of daily evacuees.
Bedingfield parroted that they’re working to move planes and people more quickly, and stressed that “Obviously, this is the president’s laser focus right now.”
(Video Credit: CNN)
Keilar stated that “the U.S. government is talking to the Taliban,” and asked the comms chief, “What strides have been made there in terms of getting people safely to the airport?”
Bedingfield told her that “This is not something that all just happens.”
“This is the result of planning,” she asserted. “I know there’s been a lot of criticism of the efforts, and of how things have played out over the last couple of days. But the truth is, the President prepared for this possibility. He prepositioned troops in the Gulf who were able to rush in immediately. 48 hours after…”
The CNN anchor brushed off the talking point and interjected, “What I want to focus on is what’s happening right now because we’re seeing pictures of Afghans throwing babies over fences. So I hear what you’re saying about prepositioning this or that. But let’s focus on what it takes to get people safely through those walls.”
She pointedly asked Bedingfield what “concrete steps” are being taken to get people to the airport and out of the country.
The Biden official deflected and laid it all on the Pentagon. She admitted, “Of course, the images that we’re seeing are heartbreaking. They’re appalling. It is a scary moment. It is unacceptable to the president. He has directed his team to move as quickly as possible.”
She also defensively added that “the president is laser-focused on this, that he put plans in place and now we’re executing on them.”
Keilar quizzed her on the administration’s “moral obligation” to Afghan allies and interrupted her answer causing Bedingfield to get testy.
“Can I finish?” Bedingfield asked, but Keilar carried on regardless.
“You’ll work to get them out. But, you know, this isn’t horseshoes, right? Close doesn’t matter. Will you get them out?” Keilar accusingly asked.
“Look, the president has committed we will get every American who wants to get out out of Afghanistan. And we are working to move as many of our allies who helped us, who stood by us, who helped our servicemen and women get out as possible,” Bedingfield commented. Keilar retorted, “I’m hearing in there that you are prepared to leave people behind.”
“We are doing everything we can to get as many people out who want to get out before the August 31st deadline. That is the sole focus of the President of the United States and his team right now. They are doing everything operationally within their capacity to get out,” Bedingfield adamantly reiterated.
“I do think it’s important, though, to remember, because there’s been a lot of discussion about whether more of this should have happened before Kabul fell,” she added.
“And the one thing I would want your viewers to take on, Brianna, is whenever we began a mass evacuation like this, it was going to trigger chaos. It was going to signal that the Afghan government was on its final legs. It was going to bring people rushing into the airport. So our aim was to try to stabilize the Afghan government as long as we could. When it was clear that was not possible, the president moved in quickly with the contingency plans that he had put in place,” Bedingfield remarked once again defending Biden.
According to Mediaite, “On August 19, the U.S. evacuated approximately 3,000 people from Hamid Karzai International Airport on 16 C-17 flights. Nearly 350 U.S. citizens were evacuated. Additional evacuees include family members of U.S. citizens, SIV applicants and their families, and vulnerable Afghans. We have evacuated approximately 9,000 people since August 14. Since the end of July, we have evacuated approximately 14,000 people.”
Although 11 U.S. charter flights have reportedly left Afghanistan in the last 24 hours, many are said to be only half full.
The latest information contends that since Saturday, the Biden administration has evacuated at least 7,000 people from Afghanistan, including 2,000 Americans. On Thursday, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price noted that approximately 6,000 people were processed for evacuation at Kabul’s international airport according to the Latin Post.
A report that was published on Thursday quoted an unidentified source who said that staff from the State Department had asked American passengers to pay up to $2,000 for flights, while foreign nationals were asked to pay even more.
Another spokesperson from the department told Politico that U.S. law requires that evacuation assistance to “private U.S. citizens or third-country nationals be provided on a reimbursable basis.”
A security alert from the State Department that was issued last Saturday said repatriation flights are not free. It further noted that passengers would be required to sign a “promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their U.S. passports until the loan is repaid.”
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) is outraged and says she is drafting legislation to ban the U.S. government from charging Americans for the flights.
“Biden created this crisis, now he wants to charge Americans who are desperately fleeing the Taliban? That’s wrong,” she tweeted. “We should not be making Americans pay for their ride to safety. I’m drafting legislation now to PROHIBIT the US government from charging Americans, period.”
Biden created this crisis, now he wants to charge Americans who are desperately fleeing the Taliban? That’s wrong. We should not be making Americans pay for their ride to safety. I’m drafting legislation now to PROHIBIT the US government from charging Americans, period. https://t.co/urYL9GYIfh
— Congresswoman Tenney (@RepTenney) August 19, 2021
Bedingfield was slammed for making excuses and repeatedly using the term “laser-focused”:
.@brikeilarcnn correctly points out that the White House is prepared to leave people (Americans and allies) behind in Afghanistan. @WHCommsDir repeatedly offers brainless talking point asserting that Biden is "laser focused." https://t.co/fNRhb7lAk3
— Mark Trammell (@mark_trammell) August 20, 2021
— Arthur Frelling Dent (@ArthurFrDent) August 20, 2021
I heard LASER FOCUSED 3x. Not exactly sure on what but okay https://t.co/KxdFjbELaw
— Jessica Heddings (@JessicaHeddings) August 20, 2021
Lots of “lasers” not much of anything else….
— Bill Rohland (@BillRohland) August 20, 2021
And what if there are still people trying to get out who haven’t been able to by 31 August? Are they just going to leave them behind? https://t.co/tdzCnxopI7
— Walt (@AU_GS_Walt) August 20, 2021
Good interview Brianna! It didn’t do any favors to the Biden administration, but at least we now know they are ready to leave our allies to their fate under Taliban rule.
— Wayward_Ronin *Afghanistan Veteran* (@W4YW4RD_R0N1N) August 20, 2021
The White House is directly responsible for putting these people in danger. https://t.co/0P2lFywQdq
— Adrienne (@AdrienneRoyer) August 20, 2021
Masterful interview by Brianna Keilar
— Juanita Peters (@americasneighbr) August 20, 2021
— Eric H. (@ericinva) August 20, 2021
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