Multiple US Republican and Democratic lawmakers angrily stormed out of a classified briefing with members of the US President Joe Biden administration on Afghanistan on Wednesday morning after their questions went unanswered.
Citing sources, CNN reported that lawmakers were frustrated after State Department, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and Office of the Director of National Security officials failed to answer their basic questions during the briefing for members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
US State Department officials — both privately and publicly — continue to say that about 100 Americans are still in Afghanistan who want to get out of the war-torn country after the Taliban takeover.
Some lawmakers have told CNN they do not understand that accounting, given the department has said that they evacuated more than 75 Americans from Afghanistan through evacuation efforts in the last few weeks. State Department officials have said that the dynamic situation on the ground is the reason they cannot give a more precise figure.
A US State Department spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday that “as a general matter, we do not comment on communications with Congress, especially those conducted in a classified setting.”
US Republican Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” on Wednesday that “everybody walked out” from the meeting, and he questioned whether administration officials knew the number of Americans still in the country.
“I don’t think they know all the answers, quite honestly,” he said of the administration.
A Democratic aide told CNN that some of the members left Wednesday’s classified briefing because there were Republican members who were not wearing masks in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. The aide added that many members are satisfied with the engagement from the State Department.
Evacuation flights continue to depart Afghanistan at a slow pace, including one over the weekend with more 21 US citizens on board. Officials say it takes a tremendous amount of work especially due to the coordination required between the US, Qatar and the Taliban to do background checks on people who do not have all the necessary documents, reported CNN.
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