Joe Biden was hit by another on-air gaffe Sunday when he appeared to forget the name of his FEMA director just moments after speaking with her.
In 10-to-12-second video clips that have sparked widespread discussion about the president’s wellbeing, Biden said, ‘There’s no one better to lead this operation than…than….umm…uh…Deanne….uh….Criswell.’
Critics say the flub – which came during a press conference on his withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Tropical Storm Henri, is further evidence of Biden’s cognitive decline.
Last week, the 78 year-old president – the oldest man ever elected to the United States’ highest office – made a series of contradictory statements, including a claim that no Americans were being harassed by the Taliban that was rubbished by Department of Defense Director Lloyd Austin moments later.
The president has previously suffered two brain aneurysms and a heart condition, which makes the muscle beat too fast and causes dizziness and confusion. Biden also suffers from a well-documented stammer.
But anytime Biden has been asked if he’s physically able to carryout such a taxing position, he been quick to knock any notion that he can’t.
But a recent poll of American voters concluded that 52 percent said they are not confident Biden is up to the most powerful job in the world while more than a third – 41 percent – said they are ‘not confident at all.’
President Joe Biden appeared to forget FEMA Director Deanne Criswell’s name during an emergency press conference on Afghanistan and Tropical Storm Henri
Deanne Bennett Criswell is the American emergency management officer currently serving as the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She was confirmed on April 22, 2021
The Afghan interim council, formed to assist in the power transfer following President Ashraf Ghani’s escape, has met several Taliban leaders to discuss issues related to control and security during the transition process
Thousands of people surrounded the Kabul airport Sunday, desperate to take the steps needed to cross the threshold to sanctuary
As the president downplays questions about his physical and mental well being, the country is facing a historic debacle in Afghanistan and a surging tropical storm threatening the East Coast.
During Sunday’s press conference, Biden said U.S. forces extended the perimeter around Kabul airport as they try to accelerate the evacuation of American nationals to protect them from long-range attacks.
Terrorists of ISIS may seek to exploit the failing operation by attacking Americans or Afghan civilians, Biden warned
The result is that discussions are under way to extend the president’s August 31 deadline for the full troop withdrawal.
‘Let me be clear – the evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful,’ Biden said.
‘No matter when it started, when we began. It would have been true if we had started a month ago, or a month from now. There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and heartbreaking images you see on television.
‘It’s just a fact.’
He said about 11,000 people were airlifted out of Kabul in less than 36 hours and said defense officials ‘hope’ they will not have to extend the evacuation operation, but ‘there are going to be discussions I suspect on how far along we are in the process’.
He said troops were maintaining constant vigilance against terrorist threats, particularly from the local affiliate of ISIS, sworn enemies of the both the U.S. and the Taliban.
‘The security threat is changing rapidly,’ he said.
‘There are civilians crowded at the airport, although we have cleared thousands of them.
‘We know that terrorists may seek to exploit the situation and target innocent Afghans or American troops .’
Every day that American troops and civilians are at the airport is another day of risk that terrorists launch an attack from distance.
But he said the Taliban had been helpful.
‘We discussed a lot with the Taliban,’ he said. ‘They’ve been cooperative in extending some of the perimeter.’
But he declined to describe further ‘technical changes’ designed to improve security.
‘Our first priority in Kabul is getting American citizens out of the situation as quickly and safely as possible,’ Biden said.
‘Any American that wants to get home will get home.’
He also said the government is ‘looking to move our Afghan allies’ out of the country as well, noting that citizens of NATO allies and Afghan allies were amongst the 11,000 individuals evacuated this past weekend.
Speaking in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, he said U.S. forces had extended the perimeter around the airport to improve security
More than half the people surveyed think someone else is pulling the strings at the White House
More Americans think Biden is not physically or mentally capable of being president than those who think he is
The president stated that as evacuation efforts are underway he wanted to be clear about three things:
‘One, planes taking off from Kabul are not flying directly to the United States,’ said Biden, explaining that the planes are landing at U.S. Military bases and transit centers around the world where security screenings will take place for non-citizens.
‘Two, at these sites where they are landing we are conducting scrutiny security screening for everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check.’
He also noted that the government will welcome these individuals into the U.S.
‘Three, once screened and cleared we will welcome these Afghans we helped us in the war effort over the last 20 years,’ Biden said.
His speech marked the latest attempt by the White House of a crisis that is rapidly turning into a humanitarian and political disaster.
A similar effort on Friday backfired when Biden claimed that he knew of no cases of Americans being stopped from reaching Kabul airport – only to be flatly contradicted by the Pentagon just minutes after his speech.
President Biden met with his national security in the White House Situation Room on Sunday morning as they faced fresh questions about how much they knew of intelligence assessments that said the Taliban could be in Kabul within days
At least seven people have been killed at Kabul airport by stampeding crowds, as thousands of panicked Afghans try to flee the country, the British military said on Sunday
Afghans trying to flee are surrounding Kabul airport where the Taliban are using live rounds and beatings to maintain order. Americans were told not to try to reach the airport on Saturday
The situation worsened over the weekend.
The U.S. Embassy told Americans to brave the chaos around the airport unless they have been told to report there after at least seven people died, including a two-year-old, in the pandemonium.
And it emerged that evacuation flights were dropping flares and making steep combat landings after warnings that terrorists of the Islamic State might try to shoot down a plane.
The Biden administration has given no firm estimate of the number of Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan. Officials have put the total between 10,000 and 15.000.
A White House officials said U.S. planes flew 3,900 people out of Kabul in the previous 24 hours. Coalition aircraft rescued a similar number.
Biden is still facing questions about why his administration did not have a better evacuation plan after being warned that the Taliban could sweep into Kabul within days.
He was also slammed by allies and opponents for staying at Camp David last weekend as the crisis deepened.
And even allies such as the United Kingdom have voiced their frustration this weekend at the way Biden pushed ahead with such a rapid withdrawal.
President Joe Biden will participate in a virtual meeting with G7 leaders on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing situation in Afghanistan
A former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said the hasty retreat would embolden enemies, including terrorist groups.
‘It has damaged our alliances, emboldened our adversaries and increased the risk to our own security. It has also flouted 20 years of work and sacrifice,’ said Ryan Crocker in a New York Times essay.
Against that backdrop of criticism, the White House tried to show a president hard at work.
It sent out a situation room photograph of Biden meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other members of his national security team.
Earlier, the Pentagon ordered six U.S. commercial airlines to help move evacuees from temporary sites outside of Afghanistan.
And this week Biden will join a virtual meeting of the G7 to discuss cooperation between the nations as the Taliban overruns Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in her statement on the upcoming meeting.
‘The leaders will discuss continuing our close coordination on Afghanistan policy and evacuating our citizens, the brave Afghans who stood with us over the last two decades, and other vulnerable Afghans,’ Psaki’s statement reads.
‘They will also discuss plans to provide humanitarian assistance and support for Afghan refugees,’ she continued.
‘The meeting will build on President Biden’s calls this week with G7 leaders Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Emmanuel Macron of France, and Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy.’
The call comes after Biden received a slew of backlash last week for not talking with any world leaders in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover. Hours after reports came out attacking him for his inaction, Biden spoke with Johnson.
The G7 intergovernmental group includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
On Sunday afternoon, Biden will deliver remarks on Afghanistan – and Hurricane Henri response – at the White House.
Britain currently holds the rotating leadership of the G7 and announced earlier on Sunday that it called for the group to meet virtually this week.
The meeting comes as chaos in Afghanistan continues to unfold, and nations scramble to evacuate their citizens from Kabul.
So far, Biden has sent in 6,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to help with evacuation efforts after the Taliban was able to take over the country in just over a week. This means the U.S. has deployed more troops into Afghanistan than the number of American citizens it has extracted from the country since the Taliban swept into power on August 14.
The Pentagon said Saturday they were only able to evacuate 2,500 Americans from Kabul in the past week.
Overall, the U.S. was able to evacuate 7,000 people from the pandemonium at the Kabul airport since last weekend, including 3,800 in the last day.
Up to 15,000 Americans still need to be evacuated and the administration hopes to get out 50-60,000 more Afghan allies and their families.