by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Back on August 19, President Biden insisted none of his top military advisors warned against withdrawing from Afghanistan on his preferred timeline, and that none of them wanted the president to keep about 2,500 troops in the country.
Today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Central Command General Frank McKenzie and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley both said they had recommended President Biden maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. McKenzie said he had also warned that a full withdrawal would lead inexorably to the collapse of the Afghan forces and government.
Back in August, Biden told George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.
BIDEN: No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha– that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?
BIDEN: No. Not at — not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops. They didn’t argue against that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no one told — your military advisors did not tell you, “No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that”?
BIDEN: No. No one said that to me that I can recall.
The simplest explanation is that Biden simply lied. But there is that possibility that Biden genuinely does not remember what his military advisors recommended a few months ago, on one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency.
If the president insists he did not lie in the George Stephanopoulos interview, is it now acceptable to ask if Biden can remember what he is told in briefings?