Kamala Harris has not been seen publicly in six days after she skipped out on joining Joe Biden for his Afghanistan press conference on Monday despite usually standing behind the president for his public remarks.
Rather than taking her usual spot behind Biden’s right shoulder as he updated the nation on the situation in Afghanistan and defended his decision to withdraw troops, the vice president watched the speech ‘from the Green Room’, according to a White House official.
The move for Harris not to be in the room for the remarks came as a shock to some after she boasted of being the ‘last person in the room’ before Biden announced in April his decision to go forward with ending the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after almost 20 years.
Harris still plans to depart on Friday for her second foreign trip in office as she visits Singapore and Vietnam, her office confirmed, claiming there are no changes to her travel plans in the midst of the chaos in Afghanistan.
The vice president was last pictured with the president on August 10 during Biden’s remarks on the Senate finally passing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
She held her last public event on August 12 when she met with CEOs to discuss the care economy.
In a gaggle before the event, a reporter asked Harris if ‘Afghanistan is lost to the Taliban?’. She did not answer the question, but said she would be leaving for a briefing on the situation after the roundtable on Thursday.
The vice president was also pictured in a Zoom meeting on Sunday with the president and other intelligence and global entities in an image released from the White House of Biden on the call from Camp David.
August 16: President Joe Biden made remarks from the White House on Afghanistan on Monday and noticeably was not joined by the vice president
August 10: Vice President Kamala Harris almost always stands behind Biden’s right shoulder for his press conferences and remarks. Here she appears alongside the president as they celebrate the Senate’s passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill last week
August 15: Harris was last seen on Sunday in a picture released from the White House of Biden on Zoom talking about the situation in Afghanistan. The vice president is pictured (center) joining the call virtually
August 12: Harris’ last public event was held Thursday when she spoke with CEOs about the so-called care economy
Biden was bashed for remaining silent on the unfolding situation in Afghanistan for six days before finally addressing the country in a White House speech on Monday before promptly returning to Camp David.
He doubled-down during his remarks that the withdrawal was the right move despite almost the whole of Afghanistan falling to the Taliban in just over a week and U.S. troops questioning what the two-decade war was for.
Overnight, an Instagram post revealed that Harris will be speaking at the Newsmaker Plenary on Thursday about ‘COVID-19 and the black community.’ Dr. Anthony Fauci will also attend the event hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Notably, no public guidance was released for Harris for her Monday or Tuesday schedule. For Wednesday, her schedule states she will receive a closed-door briefing from the White House coronavirus response team.
On Friday, guidance went out stating: ‘The Vice President will be in Washington, DC. The Vice President has no public events scheduled.’
Harris will still leave for a trip to Singapore and Vietnam on Friday, the White House confirmed. She also tweeted on Tuesday voicing her support for the withdrawal from Afghanistan
The vice president will speak at the Newsmaker Plenary to talk about ‘COVID-19 and the black community’, the National Association of Black Journalists announced overnight
While Pentagon and State Department officials deflect blame and struggle to get Americans and allies out of Afghanistan, Harris will depart for a trip to Singapore and Vietnam on Friday.
Her office said on background that Harris is being briefed regularly on the unfolding situation in Afghanistan and is actively engaged in White House and interagency discussion. They also insist her briefings will continue during her visit to Southeast Asia.
The reason Harris will not postpone her trip, the office noted, is because the Biden administration is still committed to ‘advancing our strategic interest in other regions on other issues’ while simultaneously managing developments in Afghanistan.
The vice president leaves from Washington on Friday and will arrive in Singapore on Sunday. While there, Harris will deliver a speech laying out the future of America’s relationship with the region increasingly under pressure from Beijing.
Upon arriving in Vietnam on August 24, Harris will make history by being the first sitting vice president to visit the country.
Harris’ public absence over the last few days has been noticed, especially considering it was repeated that she was the last one to speak to Biden about his decision to go forward with the Afghanistan withdrawal.
In an interview on CNN in April, Harris was asked about Biden’s statement that he wanted the VP to be ‘the last voice in the room’ when making big decisions. The president said this was similar to the working relationship he had as vice president under Barack Obama.
Harris confirmed she was the last one to speak to Biden regarding the move to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The withdrawal went forward on an expedited timeline, however, which Biden now blames on Donald Trump for setting a May 1 deadline with the Taliban.