Republican lawmakers harshly criticized the White House on Sunday as the U.S. rushed to evacuate the embassy in Afghanistan while the Taliban moved into Kabul and the collapse of the Afghan government seemed all but a done deal. “You just had President Biden a few days ago saying you wouldn’t see helicopters evacuating the embassy like Saigon. And, yet, here we are,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “This is President Biden’s Saigon moment.”
Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas called the situation unfolding in Afghanistan, “an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions.” Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, McCaul said that it “will be a stain on Biden’s presidency” and the president “will have blood on his hands.”
Other Republicans also criticized Biden but said former President Donald Trump was also to blame for the situation. Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said that while Biden “absolutely bears responsibility” for making the decision to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of August, the current situation isn’t his fault alone. “There is no question that President Trump, his administration, [Former Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo, they also bear very significant responsibility for this,” she said. Cheney said Trump “walked down this path of legitimizing the Taliban, of perpetuating this fantasy, telling the American people that the Taliban were a partner for peace.”
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a statement in which he emphasized that “American troops didn’t lose” the war in Afghanistan. “Donald Trump and Joe Biden deliberately decided to lose,” Sasse said.
Amid all the criticism, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows to defend the decision to withdraw the troops from Afghanistan and push back against the Vietnam comparisons. “This is manifestly not Saigon,” Blinken said on ABC’s This Week. “We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11, and that mission has been successful.” It wasn’t just Republicans who were making the Vietnam comparisons though. “It does feel like the fall of Saigon today, I’m not going to lie,” Rep. Debbie Dingell told MSNBC on Sunday morning.