White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday responded to calls from U.S. lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to resign after 13 U.S. service members were killed in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan.
Psaki told reporters during a press conference that today is “not a day for politics,” but to honor the memory of service members—as she also followed up on a message from the president that the United States will strike the ISIS terrorist group in retaliation for the Aug. 26 Kabul airport attacks.
“I would say, first, this is a day where U.S. servicemembers—12 of them—lost their lives at the hands of terrorists. It’s not a day for politics,” Psaki said.
“We would expect that any American, whether they’re elected or not, would stand with us and our commitment to going after and fighting and killing those terrorists wherever they live, and to honoring the memory of service members and that’s what this day is for,” she added.
Psaki’s briefing was held at the time of an initial report from Pentagon officials that indicated that 11 Marines and one Navy medic were among those who were killed; a 13th service member died hours later, according to multiple reports.
More than a dozen House and Senate Republicans called on Thursday for Biden to resign, though Psaki was only asked about “two Republican senators” in particular—likely Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who joined a wave of politicians pushing for the president to leave the Oval Office.
“Joe Biden has now overseen the deadliest day for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in over a decade, and the crisis grows worse by the hour. We must reject the falsehood peddled by a feckless president that this was the only option for withdrawal. This is the product of Joe Biden’s catastrophic failure of leadership. It is now painfully clear he has neither the will nor the capacity to lead. He must resign,” Hawley said in a statement.
Blackburn issued a similar message on Thursday, blaming the Biden administration for having “no plan and no strategy,” putting Americans into direct harm and causing many casualties.
“Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken, Lloyd Austin, and General Milley should all resign or face impeachment and removal from office,” she urged in a statement.
Others who have joined a wave of politicians and public figures calling the Biden administration “incapable” of handling the situation in Afghanistan are Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who said Biden has “blood on his hands,” as well as Congressman Tom Rice (R-S.C.), who blamed the president for rushing a “haphazard withdrawal” and ignoring advisors.
“Well Joe, you’ve proven yourself incapable of handling your job as Commander in Chief. You ignored your advisors, rushed this haphazard withdrawal without appropriate conditions, and before evacuating our citizens and friends,” Rice wrote in a statement.
Other prominent GOP congresswomen, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Lauren Boebert, also urged the president to face impeachment or step down.
Former President Donald Trump, who has been critical of Biden’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan, issued a statement that offered condolences for the fallen service members and Afghans.
“Melania and I send our deepest condolences to the families of our brilliant Service Members whose duty to the U.S.A. meant so much to them,” Trump said. “Our thoughts are also with the families of the innocent civilians who died today in the savage Kabul attack.”
“This tragedy should have never been allowed to happen, which makes our grief even deeper and more difficult to understand,” he continued.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, bragging about a suicide bomber “managing to penetrate all the security fortifications” put into place by U.S. forces and the Taliban.
Biden said at the White House on Aug. 26 that the United States will strike back at ISIS and “hunt” down the terrorist group in retaliation to the Kabul bombings.
The president has already directed military officials to draw up plans to strike ISIS facilities and fighters. He said “ISIS terrorists will not win” and the United States will “not be intimidated.”
Isabel van Brugen contributed to this report.