A House Republican lawmaker called for President Biden’s impeachment on Monday morning as he vacations in Delaware over Labor Day weekend while anywhere between 100 and 200 Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan amid a reported breakdown in negotiations between the Taliban and State Department.
‘He’s prioritizing his vacation over the lives of American citizens,’ Tennessee Rep. Diana Harshbarger said of Biden on Fox News.
‘He kept his promises to the Taliban and he’s breaking his promises to Americans to get them out, and god only knows what will happen if they can’t get out.’
Biden is scheduled to return to DC tonight after spending two full days in Delaware with no public events. He flew back to his home state Friday night after touring Hurricane Ida damage in Louisiana.
Meanwhile, the US military withdrawal from Kabul was completed a week ago, and efforts to rescue American citizens still stuck in Afghanistan has reached an impasse with reports that six private charter planes sent there to evacuate at least 1,000 people have been grounded in an Afghan city 260 miles north of Kabul.
The flights were chartered by Mercury One, a charity founded by right-wing commentator Glenn Beck, Newsweek reports.
Beck’s fleet of two Airbus 340s and four Boeing 737s from Kam Air are sitting empty in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif as their passengers – including at least 142 Americans.
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‘He’s prioritizing his vacation over the lives of American citizens,’ Tennessee Rep. Diana Harshbarger said of Biden on Fox News Monday morning
This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows satellite imagery of the Mazar-i-Sharif and grounded planes at the airport in northern Afghanistan on September 3
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said he was ‘frustrated, even furious’ at the government’s delay in pulling them out.
‘There will be plenty of time to seek accountability for the inexcusable bureaucratic red tape that stranded so many of our Afghan allies,’ Blumenthal told The Hill. ‘For now, my singular focus remains getting these planes in the air and safely to our airbase in Doha, where they have already been cleared to land.’
One NGO official told Newsweek the remaining passengers are special immigrant visa applicants and that everyone is ‘waiting in their safe houses for clearance for takeoff from the Taliban’ amid the diplomatic stalemate.
The evacuation flights reportedly cost Beck’s charity $750,000 each.
Harshbarger on Monday said now is the time for Biden to be ‘on the job 100%.’
‘We have people still in Afghanistan, they won’t let our planes leave,’ she said.
On Sunday, Reuters reported that the delay had been caused by Biden administration officials not telling Taliban leaders it had approved the departures of the chartered flights from Mazar-i-Sharif.
An exasperated flight organizer hit out at the State Department over the fiasco, saying: ‘They need to be held accountable for putting these people’s lives in danger.’
Other groups trying to organize their own chartered flights have also hit out at the State Department, with Rick Clay from private rescue firm PlanB claiming it’s the only thing stopping him fulfilling his brief.
Biden flew to Delaware on Friday night and is expected to return Monday evening
The six flights chartered by right-wing commentator Glenn Beck’s charity reportedly cost $750,000 each
Two other organizers have also torn into the Antony Blinken-headed department, with one – who didn’t give their name – telling Fox: ‘This is zero place to be negotiating with American lives. Those are our people standing on the tarmac and all it takes is a f****ing phone call.
‘If one life is lost as a result of this, the blood is on the White House’s hands. The blood is on their hands. It is not the Taliban that is holding this up – as much as it sickens me to say that – it is the United States government.’
Further details on the reason for the delay in discussions has not been disclosed. although Blinken jetted to Qatar on Sunday to discuss the issue with leaders there.
As the situation developed over the weekend, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul told Fox News earlier Sunday that the Taliban was holding the planes hostage.
‘We have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif Airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,’
‘The state has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,’ he detailed.
McCaul went on to claim that the flights were being used by the Islamic extremist group as a bargaining chip with the US, in return for full recognition.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Old Airport in Doha, Qatar on September 6
Blinken flew to Qatar Sunday to thank its leaders for supporting the US evacuation effort and amid the unfolding chaos in Mazar-i-Sharif
Taliban fighters patrol on vehicles along a street in Kabul on September 2
The airport in question is more than 260 miles from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital city of Kabul, where military flights evacuated thousands of Americans and allies from the country amid the Taliban takeover.
Senator Ted Cruz, who serves on the Committee on Foreign Relations, appeared to further substantiate that claim in a Sunday tweet.
‘Joe Biden abandoned Americans in Afghanistan,’ the Texas senator wrote. ‘Members of Congress, including me and my office, have been working around the clock to get them out – and for days Biden’s State Dept. couldn’t even get out of its own way.’
‘Now there are deeply disturbing reports of a hostage crisis,’ he added.
McCaul, the top Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that since the total troop US withdrawal from Afghanistan, no Americans have been evacuated from the country.
‘Since we left the country on Friday, how many Americans have gotten out of Afghanistan?’ anchor Chris Wallace asked. ‘Since we pulled out, how many Afghan allies have gotten out since the Taliban was in complete control of the country?’
‘Zero,’ McCaul shot back. ‘I’m sorry, the answer to your question is zero.’
Other Republicans also slammed Biden for going on vacation while Americans are stranded in Kabul
Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain seemed to downplay the situation in an interview on CNN Sunday.
Klain told the outlet that ‘around 100’ Americans are still in Afghanistan – though the more recent 142 figure is more in line with Blinken’s admission last week that ‘a small number of Americans under 200’ remain stranded.
Other Republicans have also come out against the Biden administration over the unfolding chaos – particularly the president and his Delaware getaway.
‘American citizens are still stranded behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, and meanwhile Joe Biden is vacationing in Delaware,’ former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican and close ally of the former president, said on the site: ‘Joe Biden will be spending his weekend on vacation in Delaware.’
‘Roughly 100 Americans will be spending their weekend abandoned in Afghanistan.’
But some people are managing to escape – the federal government confirmed for the first time that it has helped a US citizen and family members escape Afghanistan through an overland route to a neighboring country.
A US official told the Associated Press Monday that the citizen and their children ‘successfully departed Afghanistan using an overland route’ and were met by American embassy staff at the border.
The official would not speak to details of the evacuation or to the country in which they arrived, citing security reasons and the need to preserve the viability of the route for possible future efforts.
The evacuation is the first overland extraction the US government has confirmed since it ended its air evacuation effort last week with the final withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.
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