WASHINGTON — President Biden has delayed plans to relax at his home in Delaware, as US and Afghan citizens remain stranded in Kabul amid the Taliban takeover.
Biden was scheduled to take a long weekend with an early-afternoon departure from the White House on Friday. But the White House says he changed his mind.
The trip would have been Biden’s 19th to Delaware since taking office on Jan. 20.
“President Biden will not be travelling to Wilmington as he had been scheduled to do so, per a White House official. He will instead remain at the White House this weekend,” according to a pool report.
Biden originally was scheduled to leave DC after delivering a 1 p.m. speech on the status of evacuations from Kabul’s airport. An unknown number of US citizens are trapped in Taliban-held territory in Kabul and cannot reach the airport.
The White House again cited dubious “spacing constraints” to pre-screen the reporters allowed to attend the speech in the nearly 3,000 square foot White House East Room. The much smaller White House briefing room has had no such COVID-19 spacing restrictions and nearly all reporters are vaccinated.
But White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield defended Biden on Friday against accusations he’s avoiding questions from the reporters.
“I’ll let him make a decision on whether he’s going to take questions this afternoon. But you saw he just did a full sit down interview on this just yesterday. So he is always willing to take questions, and I’ll let him decide if he is going to do that after his remarks today,” she said.
CBS News reporter Mark Knoller, who keeps statistics on White House press engagement, said this week that Biden has done only nine interviews as president. By this point in past presidencies, Barack Obama had given 113 interviews and Donald Trump had given 50.
Biden’s weekend plans had been the subject of confusion in Washington and White House officials on Thursday refused to confirm he planned to go home, as suggested by a Federal Aviation Administration airspace restriction for Wilmington — before issuing Biden’s schedule for Friday on Thursday night confirming he would go home.
Biden faced intense backlash for being at Camp David in Maryland last weekend as the Taliban rapidly swept through Afghanistan, taking the capital of Kabul on Sunday.
The president eventually curtailed his trip and returned to the White House to address the nation on Monday, admitting that “this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”
He then returned to Camp David, before turning back around and heading back to the White House on Tuesday night.
One close Biden foreign policy ally told The Washington Post that the president’s team would never have let him leave DC last weekend had they known about the impending crisis.
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