Psaki Furiously Rebuffs Reporters Asking Her to Name a Military Adviser Who Advised Biden to Leave Afghanistan
White House press secretary Jen Psaki combated insistent members of the White House press corps on Tuesday as they sought the name of any military adviser who told President Joe Biden to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan.
The exchange began with ABC News’ Terry Moran noting Biden claimed last month his commanders were “split on the issue.” He also cited Gen. Austin Miller, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, along with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who each said they advised retaining a U.S. presence in the country.
“So who in his military advisers told him it’d be fine to pull everybody out?” Moran asked.
“I’m not going to get into specific details of who recommended what,” Psaki said. “There were recommendations made by a range of his advisers.” She also said the administration believed remaining in Afghanistan “was not going to be a sustainable, over the long-term, troop presence. We were always going to look at escalating the numbers, potentially going to war with the Taliban, of risking casualties.”
Moran countered: “But you are saying here that military advisers to the president said it would be OK to pull all the troops out, that it would be fine?”
Psaki bristled. “That’s not what I said,” she replied, before pivoting to a different topic. “What I said was — I think we should not dumb this down for anybody here. We’re talking about the initial phase, post-May 1. We’re not talking about long-term recommendations. There was no one who said five years from now, we could have 2,500 troops and that would be sustainable.”
Undeterred, Moran queried again: “The president pulled all U.S. troops out. You are saying there were military commanders who told him that as a good idea? … The president’s top military advisers … who he won’t name told him, ‘Sure, we can pull everyone out?”
“That’s not how these conversations go!” Psaki objected. “It’s a risk assessment for every president about what is in the interest of the United States.”
Psaki attempted to move on by calling on Weijia Jiang, but Jiang continued the kerfuffle.
“It might be helpful if you could just tell us, what do you mean by ‘split’?” Jiang asked. “What were they split between?”
Psaki replied, “What’s confusing about that?”
“Well, it’s either, one, they were advising 2,500 troops should remain on the ground, or two, that someone was advising that it should be zero,” Jiang said.
“Well, again, Weijia, I think it’s important for the American people to know that these conversations don’t happen in black and white,” Psaki said, again declining to address the question.
Watch above via the White House.
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