Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin contradicted President Biden on Friday, telling House lawmakers on a phone call that multiple Americans trying to reach the Kabul airport have been beaten by Taliban fighters, two lawmakers told Fox News.
Austin called the beatings “unacceptable,” a person on the phone call told Fox News. Austin’s remarks starkly contrasted with what Biden told reporters after his speech on Friday.
When asked about reports that some Americans were being blocked from reaching Hamid Karzai International Airport for evacuation, Biden denied that any Americans were having such trouble.
“To the best of our knowledge, the Taliban checkpoints, they are letting through people showing American passports,” Biden said, adding that “we know of no circumstance where American citizens, carrying an American passport,” were being blocked from reaching the airport.
“We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with with the Taliban thus far.”
Austin’s comments, which were first reported by Politico, marked the second time that the Biden administration contradicted what Biden told the public in his speech Friday.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby conceded that al Qaeda does have a “presence” in Afghanistan, even though Biden said that the terrorist group is “done” in Afghanistan.
Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich contributed reporting