U.S. troops had been stationed in Afghanistan for two decades when President Joe Biden ordered their withdrawal in August 2021. After a chaotic evacuation that lasted weeks, the last plane finally left, leaving the Taliban with possibly $24 billion worth of weaponry and equipment and the lives of 13 American service members and 170 civilians.
If Secretary of State Antony Blinken still refuses to hand over a vital memo alerting U.S. officials of a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan before the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, House Republicans could charge him with contempt of Congress as early as May 24.
Michael McCaul (R-TX), the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, stated that lawmakers gave State Department officials and Blinken “ample time” to turn over the dissenting classified report, which purportedly recommended that allies immediately evacuate before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
If Blinken fails to appear in court by the fourth deadline on Thursday, Republicans have promised to take legal action immediately.
In a statement released earlier this week, McCaul said the government breached its legal duty to disclose the requested records. The State Department claims it provided the committee with a written summary of the secret briefings and dissent, but McCaul claims the information provided so far is “misleading” and “insufficient.”
According to Republican Representative McCaul, this would be the first time in U.S. history that lawmakers would take action against a sitting Secretary of State, and the committee plans to meet on May 24 to hold Blinken in contempt and submit the matter to the House for a total vote.
The “American people and the veterans and the Gold Star families are right to know what the thinking was in the embassy at the time to take the extraordinary measure to dissent from the policy,” McCaul added.
To better understand the mood a month before the fiasco and collapse of Afghanistan, which led to the deaths of 13 service members, they would also like to “examine Secretary Blinken’s reaction to the opposing cable.”
According to reports, even if lawmakers find Blinken guilty of contempt, the Biden administration’s DOJ would still have to follow the law but would probably not pursue any disciplinary punishment against the administration official.