Politics

Biden Says U.S. May Miss Deadline For Withdrawing Troops From Afghanistan

President Joe Biden at Smith Flooring, Inc., in Chester, Pa., Tuesday
President Joe Biden at Smith Flooring, Inc., in Chester, Pa., Tuesday
Carolyn Kaster/AP

President Biden says it will be "tough" to withdraw the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan by May 1, as was agreed to by the Trump administration.

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Biden said he was "in the process" now of determining when the forces will leave.

"The fact is that, that was not a very solidly negotiated deal that the president — the former president — worked out. And so we're in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and that decision's going to be — it's in process now," Biden said.

Former President Donald Trump agreed with the Taliban last year to pull U.S. troops from the country in exchange for commitments on peace talks and other issues. At that time, there were more than 12,000 troops there, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2011.

Currently, 2,500 troops remain, although the New York Times reported last week that there were as many as 1,000 more Special Operations forces also in the country.

Asked how long U.S. troops could remain in Afghanistan, Biden said, "I don't think a lot longer," saying the May 1 deadline "could happen, but it is tough."

Biden blamed the delay on the delay in the transition process after the election. "The failure to have an orderly transition from the Trump presidency to my presidency... has cost me time and consequences," he said.

Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned in December that the lack of cooperation on transition issues with the Trump administration could in fact lead to a delay in the withdrawal. He told NPR's Scott Detrow that "The risk that we will be delayed in making decisions on this issue, as many other issues, is higher than it should be because we are not getting the kind of open and transparent cooperation that we need and that the American people deserve."

Biden comments on Cuomo

On another issue, Biden said that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should resign if an investigation confirms charges he sexually harassed several women, noting Cuomo would "probably end up being prosecuted, too" if the allegations are confirmed.

But Biden stopped short of calling for Cuomo's immediate resignation, as several lawmakers have done, including both of New York's Democratic senators. "There should be an investigation. That's what's going on now," Biden said.

Biden also said he was surprised that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 had become so politicized. Recent polls have shown a great deal of resistance to getting vaccinated on the part of Republicans, especially Trump supporters.

"I don't quite understand – you know – I just don't understand this sort of macho thing about, 'I'm not gonna get the vaccine. I have a right as an American, my freedom to not do it.' Well, why don't you be a patriot? Protect other people," Biden said.

Biden also expressed support in the interview for reforming the Senate filibuster, suggesting the chamber revert to the process "back in the old days" of requiring senators trying to block a bill to actually hold the floor, the so-called talking filibuster.

"That's what it was supposed to be," said Biden, who spent 36 years in the Senate. "Democracy is having a hard time functioning."

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