‘I want to talk about happy things, man, it’s July 4’: Biden snaps at reporters asking about Afghanistan
President Joe Biden on Friday cut off reporters who questioned him about the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying he wanted to focus on the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and ‘happy things.’
‘I want to talk about happy things, man,’ he told reporters who asked him about the American troops who left Bagram Airbase after almost two decades of war.
Biden had come out to brag about Friday’s strong jobs report when he was asked about the exit of American troops in the middle of a Taliban resurgence that has sparked fears Afghanistan could descend into civil war. The Taliban claims to have recently captured more than 100 of the over 400 districts across Afghanistan.
The airbase, which is located 30 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan, has now been handed over to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force in its entirety. The American troops left quietly, with little fanfare and no public ceremony.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki later accused reporters of reading too much into the president’s snappy responses, arguing he wanted to focus on the upcoming Independence Day celebrations.
‘I think what he was trying to convey to all of you is that he is heading into July 4 weekend, a weekend for family, we can celebrate America, and he was ready to be done answering questions. It wasn’t it wasn’t related to Afghanistan,’ she said at her White House press briefing.
And she grew defensive when pressed on the issue.
‘People are a little over reading into his response to a series of q&a, leading into a holiday weekend when he had already answered three questions on that and he just said, this is the fourth question. And he then went on and answered a couple additional questions. The President could not be more proud of the men and women serving, who have served over the last 20 years and he is going to use every opportunity again to thank them for their service,’ she noted.
Biden did address the US drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, which is expected to be completed by the end of August.
‘We’re on track exactly as to where we expected to be,’ said Biden, who had previously pledged to have all US troops out of Afghanistan by Sept 11. ‘There will be some forces left. But it’s a rational drawdown with our allies.’
But as reporters pressed him on the topic, asking a third question on it, he grew visibly annoyed and said he wouldn’t answer anymore questions on Afghanistan.
‘I’m not going to answer anymore on Afghanistan. It’s Fourth of July,’ Biden said.
‘I’m concerned that you guys are asking me questions that I’ll answer next week. It’s the holiday weekend. I’m going to celebrate it,’ he added.
He then turned to talking about his administration’s accomplishments.
‘There are great things happening. The economy is growing faster than any time in 40 years. We got a record number of new jobs, COVID deaths are down 90%, wages are up faster than any time in 15 years. We’re bringing our troops home. All across America people are going to ballgames. This is good,’ he said.
‘I’ll answer all your negative questions – not negative questions – legitimate questions,’ he added, indicating he would do so at a later time.
The president grew annoyed again when reporters asked him if Congress would pass infrastructure and families’ plan.
‘Come on guys,’ he said. ‘I love you guys but it’s a process.’