Media access to Vice President Kamala Harris’s address to U.S. troops at Pearl Harbor was suddenly blocked on Thursday.
No explanation was given, according to the White House press pool, but the move came hours after two explosions outside the airport in Kabul killed 13 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans during evacuations.
“The VP’s staff informed the pool during the flight that her event with troops at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam would now be closed press. No explanation given by the VP’s team for why it has been changed to closed press when asked by a member of the pool,” the dispatch said.
Harris traveled to Hawaii from Vietnam with a refuel stop in Guam.
Her original schedule said Harris would “participate in a troop engagement event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam” and that there would be “travel pool coverage of this event.”
Harris was also scheduled to fly to San Francisco, where she would have stumped for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election next month. But she is now slated to fly to Washington, D.C., instead.
Harris had Afghanistan on her mind today, as the White House said she was briefed on the situation and her office released a statement about the deadly explosions, for which an Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility, around the same time she landed in Hawaii. She did not answer questions from reporters as she walked off Air Force 2. She also did not respond to shouted questions about Afghanistan as she got back on the plane to fly to Washington.
“Today in Kabul, a terror attack killed 13 American service members. These courageous service members died while saving countless lives. They are heroes,” she said.
“Doug and I grieve for the Americans we lost, we pray for the Americans injured in the attack, and our hearts go out to their loved ones. We also grieve for the Afghan civilians killed and injured,” Harris continued. Our country is grateful to all our women and men in uniform, and in particular, those working today to get Americans and our Afghan partners out of harm’s way. And we will complete that mission. Today, we honor those who gave their lives in service to their nation. We will never forget.”
Pearl Harbor is best known for being the location of a surprise Japanese aerial attack in December 1941 that killed 2,403 sailors, airmen, Marines, soldiers, and civilians, which was followed the next day by the United States’s formal entry into World War II.
Although Harris’s remarks to troops at Pearl Harbor were not open to the media, the vice president’s office released a general description of the event.
“While at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the Vice President addressed 25 members of the military representing the six active duty service branches and National Guard, thanking them for their service. She and the Second Gentleman then talked individually with each service member,” her office said.
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Original Author: Daniel Chaitin