‘This Is a Lie’: Marco Rubio Blasts State Department for Claiming Some Americans Want to Stay in Afghanistan

Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, speaks during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Graeme Jennings / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called out Secretary of State Antony Blinken for the “lie” that some stranded Americans actually want to stay in Afghanistan.

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Blinken said as many as 1,500 Americans are awaiting evacuation in Afghanistan following the 4,500 Americans who have been airlifted out of the country so far.

President-elect Joe Biden listens as his Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken speaks at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President-elect Joe Biden listens as his Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken speaks at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“What we’re doing is very carefully tabulating everything we have, cross-checking it, referencing it, using different databases,” Blinken told reporters. “We will have numbers for all those different categories in the days ahead and after this initial phase of efforts to bring people out of Afghanistan ends.”

Earlier in the day, the State Department said 4,100 Americans remain in Afghanistan, but that number was later dismissed as an error.

Blinken explained that the State Department “has contacted 500 Americans and is still trying to reach another 1,000, he said, adding that it’s unclear how many in this group want to leave the country,” according to Politico.

“Since the original military withdrawal began on Aug. 14, the State Department has sent more than 20,000 emails and made over 40,000 phone calls to Americans advising them how to leave the country if they wished and providing other resources, Blinken said,” reported the outlet.

TOPSHOT - Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Blinken said since the U.S. government does not keep a full account of Americans who travel, there could be “other Americans in Afghanistan who never enrolled with the embassy, who ignored public evacuation notices and have not yet identified themselves.”

“We’ve also found that many people who contact us and identify themselves as American citizens, including by filling out and submitting repatriation assistance forms, are not, in fact, U.S. citizens, something that can take some time to verify. And some Americans may choose to stay in Afghanistan,” he explained.

Marco Rubio simply called it a “lie” to suggest that some Americans may “choose” to stay in Afghanistan.

The United States plans to be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the August 31 deadline, which will likely result in Americans and Afghan allies being left behind. Blinken said he will use “every diplomatic, economic, political and assistance tool” at his disposal to “uphold their basic rights.”

“That’s going to be a relentless focus of our actions going forward,” he said. “Locally employed staff, along with American citizens — nothing is more important to me as Secretary of State than to do right by the people who have been working side-by-side with American diplomats in our embassy.”

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