The Marines and other service members who died at Abbey Gate on Thursday "were heroes in the truest sense of the word," Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) told Axios, based on what he saw them doing just two days earlier.
What they're saying: "I expected to see a gate with Marines on one side and Afghans on the other," Moulton said Friday. "That wasn't the case. The Marines had to go out, amidst the Afghans, with the Taliban yards away with their horse whips. ... I've never been more proud to be an American."
- They "had to put these little girls and boys on their backs, and hold their parents' hands, and walk them through the gate."
Moulton made headlines earlier this week for the surprise trip he and fellow Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) made to Kabul on Tuesday.
- Pentagon and State Department officials condemned the visit, saying it diverted resources and disrupted evacuation operations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) followed up with a letter asking members not to take any other risky trips to Afghanistan.
- Moulton and Meijer are veterans, with Moulton serving in the Marines and Meijer in the Army.
- Each spent time in Iraq, with Moulton completing four combat tours.
On the criticism, Moulton said: "I just really don't care."
- "What matters to me is helping these amazing Afghans who put their lives on the line, not just for Afghanistan, but for America too," he continued. "Those are the people I answer to, the people on ground."
Asked for his reaction to Thursday's carnage at Abbey Gate, Moulton paused for more than 10 seconds.
- "It was a terrible situation to be in tactically, but it was the only way they could complete this mission," the congressman said.
- "One of the most extraordinary things ... was that these Marines were so dedicated to it that despite the risk, all they wanted to do was save more people. They would say to me, 'Sir, if we could just stay here a few days more, we could save a few more families.'"
Between the lines: Moulton said he "loved" President Biden but hates the decisions made by his administration and former President Trump that have led to the chaotic withdrawal — and, now, loss of life.
- "Make no mistake: It's the people in Washington who have made the decisions that put the Marines in this position."
- "If we had just started this earlier, with people just regularly coming to the embassy like they do to any other consular office in the world, we never would have had to put Marines in this completely absurd situation."