WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers are denouncing President Joe Biden’s administration for the Taliban’s aggressive takeover of Afghanistan over the weekend.

“What we’re watching right now in Afghanistan is what happens when America withdraws from the world,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said on ABC “This Week.”

On Sunday, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as Taliban fighters in Kabul and the group reached the brink of taking political power.

Ghani’s team confirmed the departure to CNBC. In a statement posted to his official Facebook page, Ghani said he left Afghanistan in order to avoid bloodshed, but did not specify his location or destination.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the withdrawal “botched.”

The exit “including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership,” said McConnell in a statement on Sunday.

Earlier, armed Taliban fighters entered Afghanistan’s capital, a spokesman for the group said. The Taliban ordered their fighters to enter Kabul because they believed police had deserted all their positions, a Taliban spokesman told NBC News. NBC News could not confirm these claims.

The spokesman urged Kabulis to remain calm.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., echoed his Republican colleagues, saying in a tweet, Biden “seems oblivious to the terrorist threats that will come from a Taliban-run Afghanistan.”

Cheney added, Biden “absolutely” bears responsibility for the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan as does former President Donald Trump and his administration.

“It’s not just that people predicted that this would happen, everyone was warned that this would happen,” she said.

Biden announced the full withdrawal of U.S. forces in April. The militant group’s rapid advance across the country had left the Afghan government on the brink of collapse, blindsiding U.S. officials who had not anticipated that the capital city would fall so quickly. U.S. officials last week had been scrambling to evacuate the remaining staff of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“This is an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on CNN “State of the Union.” “This will be a stain on Biden’s presidency and I think he is going to have blood on his hands for what they did.”

The Biden administration “totally blew this one” and completely underestimated the strength of the Taliban, said McCaul, who is the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

A White House official said on Sunday that Biden had spoken to members of his national security team “on the situation in Afghanistan” and would continue to receive updates throughout the day. Biden has continued to defend his decision.

“I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lauded Biden and continues to voice her support for his decision.

“The President is to be commended for the clarity of purpose of his statement on Afghanistan and his action,” said Pelosi in a statement.

“The Taliban must know that the world is watching its actions,” she said.

Teaganne Finn

Teaganne Finn is a political reporter for NBC News.


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