Secretary of State Antony Blinken could soon face a contempt of Congress charge after ignoring several subpoenas for documents from the GOP-led Oversight Committee.
GOP Representative Mike McCaul of Texas, House Oversight Chairman, says Sec. Blinken and the State Department have blown through past multiple deadlines to provide documents tied to President Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in recent months. McCaul now threatens to hold the top Biden official in contempt if he refuses to produce the documents.
“The Department is now in violation of its legal obligation to produce these documents and must do so immediately,” wrote McCaul in a statement Monday. “Should the Department fail to comply with its legal obligation, the Committee is prepared to take necessary steps to enforce its subpoena, including holding you to contempt of Congress and/or initiating a civil enforcement proceeding.”
McCaul and fellow Republicans seek access from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to a dissent report dated just before Biden’s withdrawal plans were set in motion. Dissent reports would give details of any misgivings U.S. officials may have with a plan of action.
Secretary Blinken blew through the original deadline to supply the documents in March and again in April when McCaul pushed back the deadline. He set the latest deadline, May 1, and Blinken refused to provide the requested documents again.
Instead of complying with the subpoena, the State Department will offer to give McCaul and his committee a briefing on the contents of the documents. In April, McCaul accepted the briefing but clarified that it didn’t constitute complying with the subpoena.
Committee: Still unanswered questions
Despite the briefing, McCaul and other GOP committee members said they still had unanswered questions that would only be satisfied by viewing the documents.
“It’s unfortunate that despite having received a classified briefing on the dissent channel cable, as well as a written summary, that the House Foreign Affairs Committee continues to pursue this unnecessary and unproductive action,” said Vedant Patel, State Department principal deputy spokesman Monday.
“Nevertheless, we will continue to respond to appropriate oversight inquiries and provide Congress the information it needs to do its job while protecting the ability of State Department employees to do theirs.”
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was one of the lowest points yet in the Biden presidency. While a large majority of Americans supported the decision to leave the country, they also disapproved overwhelmingly of President Biden’s handling of the operation.