A testy President Biden on Friday cut off reporters who were peppering him with questions about Afghanistan potentially falling to the Taliban once US troops fully withdraw — telling them he would take their “negative” questions another time.
Biden, who met last week with Afghan leaders, said “I want to talk about happy things, man” when he received a third question on Afghanistan at an event celebrating jobs growth in June.
When a reporter attempted to ask a fourth question on Afghanistan, Biden said: “I’m not gonna answer any more questions on Afghanistan. Look, it’s Fourth of July [weekend].”
The president said, “You guys are asking me questions that I’ll answer next week. But this is a holiday weekend. I’m going to celebrate it. There’s great things happening.”
He added: “The economy’s growing faster than anytime in 40 years, we’ve got a record number of new jobs, COVID deaths are down 90%, wages are up faster than anytime in 15 years. We’re bringing out our bring our troops home, we have all across America people are going to ballgames and doing good things.”
Biden concluded: “I’ll answer all of your negative questions, not negative — your legitimate questions — [next week].”
In response to initial questions, Biden said that “we’re on track” for a “rational drawdown” of US troops by September.
Biden announced in April that US troops will leave Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the US invasion following the 9/11 attacks. Plans to leave Afghanistan were developed at the end of the Trump administration before Biden affirmed troops would be exiting after fighting the longest US war on record.
Biden said Friday that he believes the Afghan government can withstand an anticipated Taliban assault after US troops leave.
“I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain a government. They’re going to have to be down the road more negotiations, I suspect, but I am concerned that they deal with the internal issues that they have to be able to generate the kind of support they need nationwide to maintain the government,” Biden said.
Asked about the US Air Force helping the Afghan government, Biden said, “We can be value added, but the Afghans are going to have to be able to do it themselves with the Air Force they have.”
US troops reportedly completed their pullout from Bagram Airfield near Kabul this week.