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President Joe Biden speaks Aug. 20, 2021, at the White House about the evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan. Vice President Kamala Harris looks on. (AP) President Joe Biden speaks Aug. 20, 2021, at the White House about the evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan. Vice President Kamala Harris looks on. (AP)

President Joe Biden speaks Aug. 20, 2021, at the White House about the evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan. Vice President Kamala Harris looks on. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher August 20, 2021

Claim wrong about Biden, Harris, Psaki being off of work amid Afghanistan crisis

If Your Time is short

  • Biden and Psaki have either rescheduled or cut short planned vacations.

  • Harris has been working regularly, with numerous public appearances.

The day the Taliban declared the war over in Afghanistan, after swiftly seizing the country as U.S. troops departed, President Joe Biden’s administration was attacked on social media as having been off duty.

"Joe Biden is on a 2 week vacation. Kamala Harris has been nonexistent since Inauguration Day. Jen Psaki is taking a break from her duties as Press Secretary for one week,"  an Aug. 16 Instagram post that claimed. "The country has questions, and there is nobody to answer them. This administration is a joke."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Biden had planned to take a two-week vacation, but interrupted it and cut it short. Harris has been active on several fronts, including Afghanistan. Psaki had planned to be on vacation, but reported to work.

Here are the details, based on news reports and Factbase’s listing of Biden’s public schedule. 

Biden went home to Delaware on the afternoon of Friday Aug. 6 for the weekend. He had planned to start a two-week vacation sometime during the week of Monday, Aug. 9. 

But Biden returned to Washington for two days. He arrived at the White House late on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 10; he and Harris gave remarks on the Senate’s passage of an infrastructure bill. He stayed until Thursday, Aug. 12, arriving home in Delaware late in the afternoon.

On the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 13, Biden went from Delaware to Camp David.

Biden interrupted his vacation on Monday, Aug. 16, the day the Taliban declared the war over, and arrived in Washington that afternoon. He gave a speech at the White House on the Afghanistan situation, then returned to Camp David.

Biden ended his vacation when he returned to Washington on the night of Tuesday, Aug. 17. News reports said he cut his vacation short by one day.

So, for the nine days from Monday, Aug. 9, through Tuesday, Aug. 17, during a period when Biden was expected to be on vacation, he was in Washington for all or part of five days — the 10th, 11th, 12th, 16th and 17th. He was not on vacation for two weeks.

While in Delaware and at Camp David, Biden continued some duties, including receiving briefings, although some days, no public events were scheduled. Moreover, the White House staffers travel with the president while he is vacationing.

Psaki had planned to take off the week of Monday Aug. 16, but returned to the White House that day. 

The Los Angeles Times reported Aug. 18 that Harris "has been, at least visually, front and center as President Biden has overseen America’s retreat from Afghanistan. She attends most of his security briefings and had to leave a meeting with business leaders Thursday afternoon to attend an urgent intelligence session as the Taliban rapidly cemented control over the country."

Harris has been active on other fronts. For example, in July, Harris released a strategy addressing root causes of migration; and in June, she began leading the administration's effort to bolster voting rights across the nation. Also in June, Harris took her first foreign trip as vice president, visiting Mexico and Guatemala to discuss strategy on stemming migration.

Our ruling

On Aug. 16, the day the Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over, an Instagram post claimed: "Joe Biden is on a two-week vacation. Kamala Harris has been nonexistent since Inauguration Day. Jen Psaki is taking a break from her duties as press secretary for one week."

Biden had planned to take a two-week vacation starting sometime during the week of Aug. 9, but he interrupted the vacation to return twice to Washington, and then cut it short. Harris has been active, including with the Afghanistan crisis, and Psaki reported to work on Aug. 16, the first weekday that she was to have been on a one-week vacation.

We rate the post Mostly False.

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Claim wrong about Biden, Harris, Psaki being off of work amid Afghanistan crisis

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