Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said Sunday that if American citizens and Afghan allies are left in Afghanistan following the planned withdrawal of US troops there this week that would represent “a moral stain” on the US.
“Leaving Americans behind and leaving our Afghan friends behind who’ve worked with us would put upon us and will put upon us a moral stain,” the Utah Republican told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked if US troops should remain in the country following Tuesday’s withdrawal deadline to ensure that all US citizens, legal permanent residents and Afghan allies are evacuated.
“This did not have to happen. It was preventable,” added Romney. “We didn’t have to be in this rush-rush circumstance with terrorists breathing down our neck. But it’s really the responsibility of the prior administration and this administration that has caused this crisis to be upon us.”
The comments from the senator come as concern mounts over the US’ frantic exit from Afghanistan as the withdrawal deadline nears. While President Joe Biden said last week that he’s keeping the deadline, which was established during the Trump administration, lawmakers from both parties have said they pressed Biden administration officials to extend it, to give the military more time to carry out evacuations.
According to a State Department spokesperson on Saturday, about 350 Americans were still looking to leave Afghanistan. These individuals were currently the only Americans the State Department could confirm were still in the country and seeking to leave, the department said, and it believes some of them are nearly out or already out.
About 5,400 Americans have been evacuated since August 14, the Defense Department said Saturday, while the US has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of about 111,900 people overall since that date, according to a White House official.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
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