Good morning! It’s Friday, August 27, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 438 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,166 days away.
Biden vows retribution as Kabul bombings kill 13 U.S. troops
A pair of bombings near the Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. troops and 90 Afghans on Thursday, injecting fresh chaos and tragedy into the final efforts to evacuate Americans and some Afghans before the final U.S. troops leave Afghanistan next week.
They were the first U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since February 2020, making it the deadliest day for the U.S. military in Afghanistan since August 2011 and the darkest day of President Joe Biden’s young administration.
Speaking from the East Room of the White House hours later, Biden promised to respond to the attack with force. “To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget,” the president said. “We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
One of the explosions took place at an airport hotel; the other was a suicide bombing carried out at the airport’s Abbey Gate, which the U.S. had been using to screen people attempting to flee Afghanistan. ISIS-Khorasan, the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing. The group, known as ISIS-K, is an enemy of both the U.S. and the new Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Biden said that he had ordered his commanders to develop plans to strike ISIS-K “assets, leadership, and facilities,” vowing that a response would come with “force and precision” at “the moment of our choosing.”
The attack sparked a new wave of criticism towards Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and then work with the Taliban to evacuate Americans. “One thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said in a statement, calling the situation “a full-fledged humanitarian crisis.”
Biden said in his remarks that he did not trust the Taliban but that the group was working in its own self-interest; he denied knowledge of a report that U.S. officials controversially gave the Taliban a list of Americans and Afghan allies to evacuate.
A number of Republican lawmakers sounded calls for Biden to resign or be removed by impeachment or the 25th Amendment, blaming his leadership for Thursday’s loss of life. “This is the product of Joe Biden’s catastrophic failure of leadership,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said in a statement. “It is now painfully clear he has neither the will nor the capacity to lead. He must resign.”
One of the Republicans who called for Biden’s resignation, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), was also one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for then-President Donald Trump’s impeachment last year. “Do the American people a favor,” Rice said Thursday. “Resign and turn the job over to someone who can handle it.”
In his East Room remarks, Biden accepted responsibility for the attack — although he also sought to pass off blame to his predecessor — but remained unwavering in defending the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Ladies and gentleman, it was time to end a 20-year war,” Biden declared as he concluded his speech and walked away.
More news you should know.
Eviction moratorium: “The Supreme Court late Thursday blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from enforcing the federal moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic, a defeat for the Biden administration's effort to continue the moratorium even though the court had signaled that the action lacked the proper legal basis.” NBC News
January 6 fallout: “A group of seven Capitol Police officers filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing former President Donald J. Trump and nearly 20 members of far-right extremist groups and political organizations of a plot to disrupt the peaceful transition of power during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.” New York Times
New climate report: “A fatal virus and a massive economic downturn did not stop planet-warming gases in the atmosphere last year from rising to their highest levels in human history, researchers say. Barely a year after the coronavirus grounded planes, shuttered factories and brought road traffic to a standstill, the associated drop in carbon emissions is all but undetectable to scientists studying our air.” Washington Post
What I’m reading this morning: a special section for subscribers who have donated to Wake Up To Politics or referred the newsletter to others. Thanks for your support!
“I Did Not Know It Was A Man: The Surreal Story of How A Deadly Car Crash Upended South Dakota Politics” by Tom Kludt, Vanity Fair
- South Dakota’s attorney general killed a pedestrian while driving home from a fundraiser last year. Some relatives of the victim charge that the AG has been let off easy by prosecutors; another relative says the victim was attempting to commit suicide. A winding story on how the crash and its aftermath has shaken the political hierarchy in a state “where virtually everyone is linked by fewer than six degrees of separation.”
“Where Is the Anti-Biden Tea Party?” by Ian Prasad Philbrick, The New York Times
- The elections of Barack Obama and Donald Trump sparked nationwide protests by the opposition. But as the 2022 midterms creep closer, and crises from Covid to Afghanistan pile up, the anti-Biden forces have remained relatively quiet. “Why has Mr. Biden — at least so far — escaped the sort of grass-roots ferment that dogged his two immediate predecessors?” Philbrick asks.
“A Review of State Executive Partisan Outliers” by Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics
- An interesting analysis of the partisan breakdown of executive officeholders by state. Only 14 states have more than one party represented in statewide executive office (governor, secretary of state, attorney general, etc.); the other 36 have united party control over such offices.
What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)
→ President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 8 a.m. and meet with his national security team at 8:30 a.m. to receive an update on Afghanistan. At 10:30 a.m., Biden will participate in a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, which was postponed from yesterday. At 10:55 a.m., Biden and Bennett will participate in an expanded bilateral meeting. At 4 p.m., Biden will receive his weekly economic briefing.
→ Vice President Kamala Harris will attend Biden’s meeting on Afghanistan at 8:30 a.m.
→ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 1 p.m.
→ U.S. public health officials will hold their weekly COVID-19 press briefing, postponed from yesterday, at 11 a.m.
Legislative Branch → The Senate will briefly convene at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session. The chamber is scheduled to fully return from recess on September 13.
→ The House will briefly convene at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session. The chamber is scheduled to fully return from recess on September 20.
→ The Supreme Court is on recess until October 4.
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