News & Politics

Report: Before Afghan Collapse, Biden Pressured Afghanistan's President to Lie About the Taliban's Advance

AP Photo/Wali Sabawoon

A blockbuster from Reuters reports that President Joe Biden spent a portion of his last phone call with former Afghani President Ashraf Ghani stressing the importance of “perception” when it came to Ghani’s government’s ability to stop the Taliban from taking control of the country. The international outlet reviewed a transcript of the phone call and listened to audio to authenticate the conversation.

The two leaders spoke on July 23. Three weeks later, Ghani infamously fled the presidential palace while the Taliban entered Kabul. Since then, tens of thousands of desperate Afghans have also fled, while 13 U.S. service members and nearly 200 Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing on Aug. 26 during the haphazard evacuation at Kabul airport.

“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”

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According to the published transcripts, Ghani adamantly suggested the situation on the ground was dire and needed more than a simple change in perception.

“Mr. President, we are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this, so that dimension needs to be taken account of,” Ghani reportedly claimed.

The former president then explained that his Afghan Security Forces could not maintain control without close air support from the U.S., which Biden reportedly promised to provide if Ghani was able to project a more stable situation. Biden notoriously withdrew air support and intelligence, which became the final straw in the Taliban takeover.

“I’m not a military guy, so I’m not telling you what that plan should precisely look like, you’re going to get not only more help, but you’re going to get a perception that is going to change in terms of how , um… our allies and folks here in the States and other places think you’re doing,” Biden said.

The White House, perhaps busy doing clean-up on the latest Biden flub, has so far declined to comment on the call.

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“Biden’s urging of Ghani to brag about a new strategy is proof that he was trying to be dishonest with the American people—not letting us know what was happening,” Jeff Dunetz wrote Wednesday at The Lid. “At the very least, it was an indication that we should have started to evacuate our citizens and allies three weeks earlier. If we did, there might not be anyone left behind—not that his administration seems to care anyway.”

Reuters received the materials on condition of anonymity by a source unauthorized to distribute it.