Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave an eyebrow-raising answer on Sunday when pressed about whether President Joe Biden knows what’s going on when it comes to Afghanistan, claiming that it was an “incredibly emotional time” for many people while refusing to directly answer the question.

Fox News host Chris Wallace repeatedly showed Blinken examples of things that Biden said during a press conference last week that were false, including the false claim that Al Qaeda was gone from Afghanistan and that U.S. allies have not questioned the administration’s credibility.

“Mr. Secretary, does the President not know what’s going on?” Wallace asked.

“This is an incredibly emotional time for many of us, and including allies and partners who’ve been shoulder to shoulder with us in Afghanistan for 20 years, at high costs themselves as well as us,” Blinken responded. “They stood with us after 9/11, invoked Article Five of NATO for the first time, an attack on one is an attack on all, and we’ve been there together. But I got to tell you this, Chris, from the get go, I spent more time with our NATO partners in Brussels, virtually from before the President made his decision to when he made his decision to every time since. We’ve been working very, very closely together. We’ve gotten the G7 together, NATO together, the U.N. Security Council together, we had 113 centuries, thanks to our diplomacy, to put out a clear understanding of the Taliban’s requirements to let people leave the country.”

“Sir, respectfully that, that look, I’m not questioning whether or not the allies have a right to complain. I’m not questioning whether or not al Qaeda has a presence,” Wallace responded. “The President said, Al Qaeda is gone. It’s not gone. The President said he’s not heard any criticism from the allies. There’s been a lot of criticism from the allies, words matter and the words of the President matter most.”

“Chris, all I can tell you is what I’ve heard,” Blinken said. “And again, this is an powerfully emotional time for a lot of allies and partners as it is for me, as it is for us.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

WALLACE: Job one, of course, is getting Americans through Taliban checkpoints and to the airport. Here’s what President Biden said on Friday.

[START VIDEO]

BIDEN: We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport, we’ve made an agreement with the with the Taliban, thus far they’ve allowed them to go through.

[END VIDEO]

WALLACE: But yesterday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued this alert, ‘because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport, we were advising in U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport, unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so.’ That that alert directly contradicts what President Biden said just hours before on Friday. And my question is, is that because the situation in getting to the airport, even for Americans, is more dangerous than the President indicated? Or is it because of a reported new threat from ISIS?

BLINKEN: Chris, here’s what we’ve seen over the last week at the airport, crowds have massed at the gates outside the airport, it’s an incredibly volatile situation. It’s an incredibly fluid situation, we’ve seen wrenching images of people hurt, even killed, that hits you in the gut. And it’s very important to make sure to the best of our ability, because it’s such a volatile situation, that we do something about the crowding at the gates of the airport. And that’s what exactly what we’re doing. First, the more we move people out of the airport who are already in, the more we alleviate what has been overcrowding inside the airport, the more we can get people inside the airport and reduce some of the crowding at the gates. But second, and most important, we’re in direct contact with Americans and others, to help guide them to the airport, right place, right time, to get in more safely and effectively. And at the same time, as we were talking about a few minutes ago, we now have in place agreements with, as I said more than two dozen countries. So that as we’re moving people out of Kabul, we’re moving them to places where we can finish processing them, finish doing security checks, and that too, will make things run more smoothly. It’ll get the flow to a point where we hope and expect that some of these scenes of overcrowding, which are so dangerous, can be alleviated.

WALLACE: I want to pick up on another aspect of the evacuation. We know of one instance where the U.S. sent three Chinook helicopters out to a hotel near the airport to pick up 169 Americans and bring them back into the airport. Have there been other instances where the U.S. has gone outside the perimeter of Kabul airport to pick up Americans either in Kabul or around the country? And are we prepared to do more of that?

BLINKEN: Chris, the president, secretary defense have been very clear that we will do what is necessary to get Americans who want to leave out of harm’s way and get them home. And that is an ongoing effort. I’ll leave it to the secretary of defense and others to speak to how we would go about doing that. But our focus now what the State Department is focused on in very close coordination with the Department of Defense and all of our other colleagues is directing people with whom we’re in direct contact, as to the best way to get to the airport, get through the gates, get onto planes. That’s the safest and most effective way to do it.

WALLACE: In addition to the question of the security and the ease of Americans getting to the airport, the President on Friday said a few other things that were flat wrong, Mr. Secretary. Here he is on the threat from Al Qaeda.

[START VIDEO]

BIDEN: What interests do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?

[END VIDEO]

WALLACE: But a U.N. report this summer says that al Qaeda is present in 15 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan and General Milley said this summer that if the Taliban fell that he was, or rather took over Kabul, that he was going to have to upgrade the terror threat from Al Qaeda. What the President said just wasn’t true.

BLINKEN: Chris, step back for one second. First, as we, as we all know, we went to Afghanistan 20 years ago, with one mission and one purpose in mind. And that was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11, to bring bin Laden to justice, which we did a decade ago, and to diminish the capacity of al Qaeda to do the same thing, again, to attack us from Afghanistan. And that to the President’s point, has been successful. We got a lot in a decade ago.

WALLACE: But, Mr. Secretary, the president, sir, the President said al Qaeda is gone. Simple question, is al Qaeda gone from Afghanistan?

BLINKEN: Al Qaeda’s capacity to do what it did on 9/11, to attack us, to attack our partners or allies, from Afghanistan is vastly, vastly diminished.

WALLACE: Is it gone?

BLINKEN: Are there al Qaeda members and and remnants in Afghanistan? Yes, but what the President was referring to was this capacity to do what it did on 9/11. And that capacity has been very successfully diminished.

WALLACE: Here’s another statement that the President made that was flat wrong. Take a look.

[START VIDEO]

BIDEN: I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world. … I’ve got the exact opposite thing is we’re acting with dispatch, we’re acting, committing to what we said we would do.

[END VIDEO]

WALLACE: But Armin Laschet, the likely successor to German Chancellor Merkel said, ‘this is the biggest debacle that NATO has seen since its foundation.’ And here is the chairman of the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

[START VIDEO]

TOM TUGENDHAT: To see their commander in chief call into question the courage of men I fought with, to claim that they ran, shameful. Those who have never fought for the colors they fly, should be careful about criticizing those who have.

[END VIDEO]

WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, does the President not know what’s going on?

BLINKEN: This is an incredibly emotional time for many of us, and including allies and partners who’ve been shoulder to shoulder with us in Afghanistan for 20 years, at high costs themselves as well as us. They stood with us after 9/11, invoked Article Five of NATO for the first time, an attack on one is an attack on all, and we’ve been there together. But I got to tell you this, Chris, from the get go, I spent more time with our NATO partners in Brussels, virtually from before the President made his decision to when he made his decision to every time since. We’ve been working very, very closely together. We’ve gotten the G7 together, NATO together, the U.N. Security Council together, we had 113 centuries, thanks to our diplomacy, to put out a clear understanding of the Taliban’s requirements to let people leave the country.

WALLACE: Sir, respectfully that, that look, I’m not questioning whether or not the allies have a right to complain. I’m not questioning whether or not al Qaeda has a presence. The President said, Al Qaeda is gone. It’s not gone. The President said he’s not heard any criticism from the allies. There’s been a lot of criticism from the allies, words matter and the words of the President matter most.

BLINKEN: Chris, all I can tell you is what I’ve heard. And again, this is an powerfully emotional time for a lot of allies and partners as it is for me, as it is for us. But I’ve also heard this, I’ve heard across the board, deep appreciation and thanks from allies and partners for everything that we’ve done, to bring our allies and partners out of harm’s way. This has been a remarkable part of the effort. I’ve seen them stand up, step up, to to help out including, as I said, agreements with more than two dozen countries now to help them on transit. And beyond that. We’re very focused together on the way forward, including the way forward in Afghanistan and setting very clear expectations for the Taliban in the days, weeks and months.

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