Psaki Attempt To Dodge Questions About Who Advised Biden It Was Okay To Withdraw Troops

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In the press conference this past Tuesday, Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, has taken to refusing to answer any specific questions from reporters about accounts from the military leadership to the Senate of the United States that seemed to indicate that they thought troops should have not been pulled out of Afghanistan, an idea which Old Uncle Joe seemed to appear to directly contradict during interviews this past month.

When questioned about which of the military leaders told Biden that it would be safe to pull the troops out, Psaki snapped back stating that she was “not going to get into specific details:”

REPORTER: Back in Afghanistan, the President said his military commanders were split. We now know that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, head of CENTCOM, General McKenzie and the commander on the ground, General Miller all recommended the president to 2,500 troops. So who, in his military advisors told him it’d be fine to pull everybody out?

PSAKI: I’m not going to get into specific details of who recommended what, but I can, I would reiterate a little bit of what I conveyed before, which is that there were recommendations made by a range of his advisors, something he welcomed, something he asked them to come to him clear eyed about, to give him candid advice. What is also clear, though, and I’d also note again, what Secretary Austin said today, is that was not going to be a sustainable over the long term, troop presence. We were always going to look at escalating the numbers, potentially going back to war with the Taliban and risking casualties. That was not a decision the President was going to make. But of course, he welcomes advice. He welcomed advice. Ultimately, it’s up to the commander in chief to make a decision. He made a decision it was time to end a 20 year war.

REPORTER: But you are saying here that military advisors to the president said it was okay to pull all the troops out, that it would be fine?

PSAKI: That’s not what I said. What I said was, they recommend, I think we should not dumb this down for anybody here. We’re talking about the initial phase, post-May 1, we’re not talking about long term recommendations.

Weijia Jiang, a reporter for CBS News, asked Psaki about the subject and the claim that the thoughts of the leadership of the military were “split”:

JIANG: Go ahead. It might be helpful if you could just tell us what do you mean by ‘split’? What were they between?

PSAKI: What’s confusing about that?

JIANG: Well, it’s either one, they were advising that 2,500 troops should remain on the ground or two, that someone was advising that it should be zero.

PSAKI: Well, again, Weijia, I don’t think, I think it’s important for the American people to know that these conversations don’t happen in black and white or like you’re in the middle of a movie. These conversations are about a range of options about what the risk assessments are about every decision. And of course, there are individuals who come forward with a range of recommendations on what the right path forward looks like. I’m not going to detail those from here. They’re private conversations and advice to the President of the United States. Ultimately, regardless of the advice, it’s his decision. He’s the commander in chief. He’s the president, he makes decisions about what’s in the national interest.

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