Biden says U.S. troops may stay longer if needed for evacuations.

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Mr. Biden insisted in the interview that the Taliban had agreed to let American citizens get through to the airport.

“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 said. “What they would do. What are they doing now? They’re cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, et cetera.”

That was not the case, he acknowledged, for the thousands of Afghans who helped U.S. and NATO forces over the years and now have a target on their back.

“They’re having — we’re having some more difficulty having those who helped us when we were in there,” the president said.

The president insisted that the administration had acted swiftly to evacuate the American Embassy in Kabul without losing any lives.

And though the world has looked on in horror, he appeared dismissive of the images of United States military planes taking off with Afghans clinging to their sides. Some plunged to their deaths.

“That was four days ago, five days ago!” Mr. Biden declared.

Mr. Stephanopoulos asked whether what happened was a “failure of intelligence, planning, execution or judgment,” deflected to the broader issue of his decision to end the war.

“Look, it was a simple choice, George,” Mr. Biden said. “When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and taking off and going to another country; when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off — that was, you know, I’m not, that’s what happened. ”

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