President Joe Biden arrived at Dover Air Force Base on Sunday with the intention of paying his respects to the 13 U.S. service members killed in last week's terror attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. But according to at least one family, the president's attendance at the solemn ceremony was anything but respectful.
During the "dignified transfers," as they have come to be known, Biden met privately with family members of the fallen. The Washington Post reported that during the meetings, some expressed anger at the president, holding him responsible for the bungled military withdrawal that led to their deaths.
The family of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, in particular, found it difficult to embrace Biden after Rylee's tragic death. The 20-year-old was a husband and expecting father — his young wife Jiennah only weeks away from giving birth to their first child.
Biden could have consoled them in their grief. Yet he amplified their pain by reportedly offering only a "scripted and shallow" response to their loss. Here's more from the post:
One of McCollum's sisters, Roice, said she and her sister and her father joined McCollum's wife, Jiennah McCollum, on the trip. But when it came time to meet with the president, they left the room, because she said they did not want to speak with the man they held responsible for McCollum's death.
Only Jiennah, who is expecting the couple's child next month, stayed. But she left disappointed, Roice said. The president brought up his son, Beau, according to her account, describing his son's military service and subsequent death from cancer. It struck the family as scripted and shallow, a conversation that lasted only a couple of minutes in "total disregard to the loss of our Marine," Roice said.
"You can't f--- up as bad as he did and say you're sorry," Roice said of the president. "This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands."
The White House declined to comment on the private conversations Biden had with families.
The McCollums' sentiment was reportedly shared by some of the other Gold Star families. Townhall reporter Julio Rosas claimed that sources close to some of the families told him that "more than one of the families did not even want Biden to attend the dignified transfers."
Paula Knauss, the mother of Sgt. Ryan Knauss, who was also killed in the attack, lamented Biden's failure of leadership in conversation with the Post.
"You can't have a hasty withdrawal after 20 years of war," she said. "Because it's beyond me. It disgraces the name of all those who have fought in the past and who are now on ground, foreign ground fighting right now, my son's [82nd] Airborne is still there, and they deserve to be protected."
Prior to the ceremonies, another family member of a fallen Marine also expressed his anger with the president.
Steve Nikoui, the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, when reached by the Daily Beast, said, "Biden turned his back on him. That's it."