POLITICO Playbook: ‘The worst day of your presidency’

source: https://www.politico.com

When Kabul fell to the Taliban several days in the past, rocking President JOE BIDEN’s pullout operation, the White House made a strategic preference: They doubled down, didn’t apologize and crossed their fingers that the country would move on quick.

Now, 13 U.S. Provider participants are dead following a pair of suicide bombs — the primary U.S. Troops to be killed in Afghanistan in 18 months — as are 95 Afghans. The assault, completed with the aid of ISIS-K, is the deadliest attack on American forces in the usa in a decade. And it’s exactly the state of affairs Biden hoped to avoid by way of leaving Afghanistan: the dying of U.S. Troops.

As WaPo’s Sean Sullivan and Anne Gearan record in their tale approximately the scenario, “Biden keeps a tally of U.S. Carrier members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan on a card in his breast pocket, and now, for the first time, that tally will include a few who lost their lives on his watch.”

The tragedy basically modifications this example for Biden, escalating a catch 22 situation he’d hoped could stabilize and, over time, be reduced to a mere blip inside the radar of his presidency. But there’s no minimizing what occurred Thursday, or that the tragic day may be a part of his legacy. It also has the makings of a billowing disaster that threatens Biden on numerous fronts.

— Congressional Republicans are up in fingers, arguing that none of this had to happen. Some referred to as on Biden to surrender as president inside the wake of the attack — and now not simply conservative darlings like Sens. JOSH HAWLEY (R-Mo.) and MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-Tenn.), however also Rep. TOM RICE (R-S.C.), one in all most effective 10 House Republicans who voted to question DONALD TRUMP. Sen. RICK SCOTT (R-Fla.) has floated invoking the twenty fifth Amendment, which received’t appear. There’s already speak about impeaching Biden over the ordeal if, as many anticipate, the GOP flips the House.

It all signals Republicans’ eagerness to capitalize on this disaster and probably hammer it into a Benghazi-style scandal. On a House GOP convention name Thursday night time, the rating individuals of numerous committees — who could wield gavels and subpoena strength in 2023 — said they’ve already despatched report preservation requests to the management.

— Some Democrats on the Hill are actually looking for to distance themselves from Biden, who become lengthy visible as the important thing to their capacity to win in aggressive swing seats. Rep. SUSAN WILD, a the front-line Democrat from Pennsylvania, didn’t mince phrases when she tweeted that “even though it is apparent to me that we could not hold to position American servicemembers in risk for an unwinnable warfare, I also trust that the evacuation procedure appears to have been egregiously mishandled … We want solutions and duty concerning the cascading disasters that led us to this moment.” The requires oversight and investigations will most effective grow louder.

— There’s growing outrage over U.S. Coordination with the Taliban to secure the airport and assist with evacuations.

Our colleagues Lara Seligman, Alexander Ward and Andrew Desiderio added an brilliant scoop Thursday: “U.S. Officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to supply entry into the militant-controlled outer perimeter of the metropolis’s airport, a preference that’s prompted outrage behind the curtain from lawmakers and army officials.”

This, too, is prompting new complaint of the Biden administration’s managing of the pullout. Senate Foreign Relations Chair BOB MENENDEZ (D-N.J.) issued an angry statement about U.S. Reliance on the Taliban: “We can’t accept as true with the Taliban with Americans’ protection,” he stated. Sen. BEN SASSE (R-Neb.) is now relating to the list of names given to the Taliban as a “kill list,” and annoying to understand whose concept it became.

As WaPo’s Matt Viser tweeted Thursday, in early July, Biden changed into requested whether or not he depended on the Taliban. His solution? “Is that a serious query? … No, I do no longer.” But the scenario has deteriorated a lot that that is wherein we are.

Asked approximately the report Thursday, Biden stated that the U.S. And Taliban proportion a “mutual self-hobby” in, basically, getting American troops out, and mentioned that there may be no proof that the Taliban assisted within the ISIS assault. It’s an sincere answer, but no longer always a politically pleasurable one.

In his speech, Biden hailed those we misplaced. (“The lives we misplaced these days have been lives given in the carrier of liberty, the provider of safety, the carrier of others.”) He promised retaliation. (“We will hunt you down and make you pay.”) And he regular fault. (“I bear duty for, essentially, all that’s occurred of past due.”)

But he also reiterated that he’s going to live the path and persist with the Tuesday closing date to withdraw from Afghanistan, and he decreased expectancies approximately whether the U.S. Will evacuate each Afghan who wants to depart. (“I recognize of no struggle — as a pupil of history — no battle whilst a war changed into finishing [where] one facet changed into able to assure that everyone who desired to be extracted from that us of a turned into capable of get out,” Biden stated.)

There changed into, in the press convention that observed, no spinning the gravity of what passed off. “Any day when you lose service members is, maybe, the worst day of your presidency,” said press secretary JEN PSAKI.

— Latest headlines: “Evacuations resume after Kabul bombings as toll now over 100,” AP … “U.S. On alert for more ISIS attacks,” Reuters … “Biden Faces a Tragedy He Worked to Avoid,” NYT … “An navy of veterans and volunteers organizes online to evacuate Afghans, from hundreds of miles away,” WaPo … “Inside the Hidden War Between the Taliban and ISIS,” WSJ

CUOMO PLOTS HIS REVENGE — As governor of New York, ANDREW CUOMO turned into notorious a few of the Albany press corps for the usage of the media as a device to encourage worry and sow mayhem. He’d talk to journalists on history as a “senior management reliable,” and use that anonymity to protect himself. He’d plant unsavory memories approximately political combatants. He’d get his aides to perform his grimy paintings.

It’s an approach Cuomo plans to continue in existence after workplace.

Playbook has found out that RICH AZZOPARDI — Cuomo’s longtime spokesperson and senior adviser — is the previous governor’s first huge lease the usage of the $18 million in leftover marketing campaign coins the governor had collected for his now-defunct reelection marketing campaign — and which he now plans to use to mount a marketing campaign of retribution in opposition to his perceived political enemies, inclusive of now-Gov. KATHY HOCHUL.

According to a dozen journalists and political aides, at some stage in Cuomo’s final weeks in office, Azzopardi mounted an aggressive closing-ditch try to salvage the governor’s political profession, together with:

— Posing as an ally of Hochul’s and suggesting that he became recruiting candidates for her transition — a pass that a few observers noticed as an attempt to check Cuomo aides for loyalty. Senior members of Hochul’s staff say they have been ignorant of Azzopardi’s outreach and, within the words of 1 senior aide, view it as “nonsensical.”

— Cold-calling reporters to plant stories approximately Cuomo’s perceived enemies.

— DMing newshounds on Twitter and inspiring them to tweet out messages wondering the veracity of New York A.G. TISH JAMES’ record into the accusations of sexual harassment against Cuomo.

— Serving up background quotes wondering the competence of then-Lt. Gov. Hochul.

“The fever [with] which they are doing this — to relitigate the beyond and undermine Hochul — is remarkable,” said one reporter. “They don’t seem to peer that they're out of electricity and nobody cares.”

Azzopardi denies that he has planted testimonies in opposition to Hochul. “I’ve been very clean approximately my thoughts, I wrote an op-ed, however I’ve by no means stated some thing approximately the governor or the new administration,” Azzopardi said.

But revenge is Cuomo’s hallmark. Political aides and operatives who have worked for Cuomo say they assume him to use his $18 million battle chest first to pay his criminal payments and then to take out his “enemies” — a wide time period that many expect includes outstanding Democrats who called on him to resign.

“What is a person to do with $18 million, loads of enemies and a choice for revenge?” said HANK SHEINKOPF, a political representative who has worked each for and towards Cuomo. “This isn't a man who forgets. The simplest query is when he tries to get even, and whether it’s upfront or backstage.”

There are only a few restrictions on how Cuomo can spend his thousands and thousands. He can rent spin medical doctors, pay legal fees, create a nonprofit, behavior polling, launch attack advertisements and support the ones applicants strolling in opposition to his enemies.

“That money is politically radioactive,” stated PHIL SINGER, a Democratic strategist who labored on Cuomo’s 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns. “Any baby-kisser who desires to gain from it might must be publicly reluctant to do so — even though they're privately excited about the coins infusion that it would provide.”

More than assault advertisements of their districts, Cuomo’s critics worry that he will use the money to run for statewide office once more. “His remaining two weeks in workplace [were] approximately looking to see if he should survive politically,” said New York kingdom Sen. GUSTAVO RIVERA. “What I am worried about is him coming round again — period.”

Cuomo’s aides are mum approximately what’s in store. Azzopardi deflected when requested if revenge have been at the desk: “I don't have any earthly concept a way to solution that query, come on.” But will Cuomo use the $18 million to dabble in country politics again? “I don’t have something to mention to you,” Azzopardi said — for now.

Update: After this item posted, Rich Azzopardi sent us the following declaration regarding his outreach in the course of the Hochul transition: “I was seeking to be beneficial and useful resource in a transition and they regarded receptive. To spin this as by some means duplicitous is loopy. I want them luck.”