While President Joe Biden and key members of his national security team have borne the brunt of criticism and outrage over the swift fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban — and the scenes of chaos and carnage as Americans and Afghans attempt to get out of the country — Vice President Kamala Harris has kept a conspicuously low profile.
It’s a far cry from April 25, when Harris appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and proudly affirmed to host Dana Bash that she had been, as Bash put it, “the last person in the room” with Biden when he decided to end US involvement in Afghanistan.
“And you feel comfortable [with Biden’s decision]?” Bash followed up.
“I do, and I’m going to add to that,” Harris said. “This is a president who has an extraordinary amount of courage. He is someone who I have seen over and over again make decisions based on what he truly believes — based on his years of doing this work and studying these issues — what he truly believes is the right thing to do.”
However, with horrific and tragic images emerging seemingly hourly from Afghanistan, Harris has not been seen in public since Thursday, when she cut short a meeting with CEOs to discuss the Biden administration’s child care proposals to attend an intelligence briefing as the Taliban began their final offensive.
Since then, she has only appeared in still photos put out by the White House. Her only public statements have been on Twitter. She was not by Biden’s side, as she has been on other occasions, when he attempted to defend his decision to withdraw all US combat forces from Afghanistan in a White House address Monday.
As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated over the weekend, Harris took part in Saturday and Sunday video conferences with Biden’s national security team. Widely mocked images posted on the White House Twitter account show Harris joining the conference from the vice president’s official residence and occupying one of several boxes on a screen in front of Biden, who sat alone in a conference room at Camp David.
Harris’ official account retweeted the image of the Saturday video conference. On Monday, after Biden delivered his much-panned statement justifying his decision to pull out US forces, Harris tweeted: “For two decades, our courageous servicemembers put their lives on the line in Afghanistan. We will always be grateful—and proud.
“Ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is the right decision,” she added.
On Tuesday, Harris doubled down in another tweet that read: “We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago. Now, our mission is to get our people, our allies, and vulnerable Afghans to safety outside of the country.”
On Wednesday morning, the White House tweeted out another image of a national security briefing. Harris sat to Biden’s right, wearing a mask and staring at a briefing book with an expression that could be read as pensive or pained.
The image was retweeted from Harris’ account.
Harris is scheduled to end her public silence on Thursday with an address to the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists. The following day, she is scheduled to depart Washington for Singapore and Vietnam, her second overseas sojourn after a rocky trip to Mexico and Guatemala back in June.
While in Southeast Asia, Harris is expected to face tough questions about the signals the Biden administration’s Afghanistan collapse sends to allies on the other side of the continent, who are worried about a saber-rattling China.
Harris’ office did not respond to questions from The Post about whether she should have taken on a more public-facing role as the situation in Afghanistan unfolded, including whether she should have joined Biden for his Monday remarks.