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Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said he saw no way to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan "without chaos ensuing" in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that was previewed Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: Critics have slammed the Biden administration for failing to plan a measured and managed departure, which the Taliban used to their advantage. But in his first on-camera interview since the fall of Afghanistan, Biden defended the withdrawal, calling it "a simple choice."

What he's saying: Five weeks ago, Biden had assured Americans that the "likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely."

  • But on Wednesday, Biden told Stephanopoulos that "the idea that somehow, there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing — I don't know how that happens."
  • When asked if that was "priced" into Biden's decision, Biden answered in the affirmative before backtracking.
    • "Now exactly what happened, I've not priced in," he said. "Look, one of the things we didn't know is what the Taliban would do in terms of trying to keep people from getting out."
  • He reiterated that the Afghan government, whose U.S.-backed leader, Ashraf Ghani, fled on Sunday as the Taliban closed in on Kabul, was at fault for the country's collapse.
  • "It was a simple choice. If I said, 'we're gonna stay,' then we'd better be prepared to put a whole lot hell of a lot more troops in."

Worth noting: The president grew defensive when Stephanopoulos alluded to photos of hundreds of people crammed into a C-17.

  • "That was four days ago, five days ago!" Biden interrupted.
  • The photo was taken on Monday.

Catch up quick: Since Sunday, Afghans have fled their homes and pleaded with the world to open their borders. The U.S. is working to relocate allied Afghans and their families.

  • The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday that the U.S. military's intelligence did not indicate that Afghanistan would fall as quickly as it did to the Taliban.
  • Former Afghan President Ghani said he is in "talks to return to Afghanistan." He claims he left Kabul to prevent bloodshed.
  • Senate Democrats have vowed to investigate the U.S.'s "flawed" pullout of troops.

Go deeper

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.

4 hours ago - Technology

TikTok drives new nostalgia economy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as younger consumers desperately chase slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok's algorithm makes it easy for flashback items to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and eventually on other social networks.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.