President Joe Biden returned to the White House from vacation at Camp David Tuesday night, as he faces vocal criticism from both sides of the aisle over the chaos unfolding during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden landed at Fort McNair at about 9:05 PM ET and took a motorcade back to the White House, arriving 15 minutes later.
The president was originally scheduled to return on Wednesday.
But amid a growing chorus of criticism for his relative silence about Afghanistan and his absence from his main place of work while the country fell apart, the president decided to head back early. The White House had earlier Tuesday called a “lid,” meaning no further movements or events were expected, so it appears the decision to return was made hastily during the afternoon.
Biden briefly returned to the White House on Monday to deliver a short speech on the situation in Afghanistan, remarks in which he doled out blame to others and for which he has been widely criticized. Biden returned to Camp David after giving the speech and did not take questions from the media.
The State Department on Tuesday told American citizens and others looking to get out of Afghanistan that they should “shelter in place” until they are given further instruction by the U.S. Embassy amid a fragile security situation in the Afghan capital.
“Our message remains for American citizens and for others who have expressed interest in relocation out of Afghanistan: shelter in place until and unless you receive a communication from the U.S. embassy,” spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
A White House official told Fox News Tuesday that military and civilian flights from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul have resumed, and that over the last 24 hours the U.S. has been able to move more than 700 people out of Afghanistan, including 150 American citizens.
Flights were temporarily suspended from Kabul’s airport on Monday, as U.S. forces attempted to gain control of the crowd of Afghans desperate to leave the country.
Despite the Pentagon’s assurances Tuesday that there has been “no threat” by the Taliban to the U.S. mission, former senior defense officials in contact with commanders on the ground in Kabul have told Fox News that the Taliban “has a ring outside of the airport and won’t let anyone inside it.”
Adam Shaw and Brooke Singman contributed to this report