The White House admitted Tuesday that President Joe Biden did get advice from the military to leave troops in Afghanistan — despite the president repeatedly claiming in an interview with ABC News that he did not.
Biden’s lie was exposed in a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.
“I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan,” McKenzie said in response to questions about his advice to Biden on troop levels.
Milley said he also recommended a “steady state of 2,500” troops in the region.
Biden repeatedly lied about the advice he got from military commenters on troop levels.
From the transcript of his August 18 interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.
BIDEN: No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha– that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?
BIDEN: No. Not at — not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops. They didn’t argue against that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no one told — your military advisors did not tell you, “No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that”?
BIDEN: No. No one said that to me that I can recall.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki struggled to defend Biden’s statements during the White House press briefing.
She urged reporters to consider Biden’s comment that the advice “was split,” and he made his decision based on the advice he was given.
But Psaki acknowledged that the generals testifying in the Senate did make recommendations to the president on troop levels, and that Biden decided against their advice.
“That is not the decision the president made,” she said.
She defended the process as complicated, urging reporters not to simplify it.
“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,” Psaki said.