House Foreign Affairs Committee to consider holding Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress

May 17, 2023
Ben Marquis

President Joe Biden's State Department and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been decidedly uncooperative with House Republican efforts to investigate the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Now, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) has announced plans to move forward next week with a resolution to hold Sec. Blinken in contempt of Congress, according to the Conservative Brief.

That would make good on a threat issued last week by McCaul to hold Blinken in contempt after the State Department had ignored multiple deadline extensions for it to respond to a committee subpoena first issued in March for a specific document from July 2021 that outlined "dissent" to the department's plans from nearly two dozen U.S. diplomats on the ground in Afghanistan.

Hearing scheduled on holding Blinken in contempt

In a Wednesday press release, Chairman McCaul announced that he had scheduled a markup hearing on May 24 to consider a draft resolution to hold Sec. Blinken in contempt of Congress for his department's repeated refusal to comply with the March subpoena.

That confirmed what he had already told the media earlier this week about his intention to move forward with the contempt resolution, which will likely be passed through the committee in a party-line vote and proceed to the House floor for consideration at some point in early June.

"I don't take this lightly because a secretary of State's never been held in contempt by Congress before. And I think the secretary realizes that and the gravity. They probably prefer not to go down this route as well," McCaul told Fox News on Monday. "But if they do not comply, we're prepared to move forward next week with a markup for resolution of contempt."

Blinken, State, fail to comply with committee subpoena

It was just last week that Chairman McCaul had first floated the possibility that Sec. Blinken could be held in contempt of Congress in a letter sent to the secretary to demand the department's full compliance with the committee's subpoena.

At issue here is a four-page diplomatic cable sent on July 13, 2021, through the department's so-called "dissent channel" that was signed by 23 State Department officials in Afghanistan and called for the immediate evacuation of all U.S. personnel ahead of the rapidly advancing Taliban offensive that essentially recaptured Kabul in mid-August while the Biden administration reacted belatedly with a poorly mismanaged evacuation effort that was marred by a bombing attack outside the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and wounded scores more.

The committee has demanded a full copy of that document -- not just a brief summary that was turned over -- as well as the official response to the cable from Blinken and the department, but those have not been forthcoming despite concessions on redactions being made and multiple extensions of the deadline for the subpoena.

"The Department is now in violation of its legal obligation to produce these documents and must do so immediately," McCaul wrote in the letter to Blinken, and added, "should the Department fail to comply with its legal obligation, the Committee is prepared to take the necessary steps to enforce its subpoena, including holding you in contempt of Congress and/or initiating a civil enforcement proceeding."

The Associated Press reported that the State Department has attempted to defend its apparent refusal to comply with the subpoena by arguing that it had previously provided the committee with a briefing and a summary of the substance of the document, but Chairman McCaul made it clear that the response received has not been satisfactory for him or other members of the committee who continue to have unanswered questions.

"I want to see the original content, and I also want to see the secretary’s response," McCaul told reporters this week. "It’s a state of mind in the embassy at the time, and to have 23 dissenters is very significant."

Moving forward with transcribed interviews of department officials

Meanwhile, Just the News reported that the House Foreign Affairs Committee is moving forward with its broader investigation of the Afghanistan withdrawal in August 2021 with the announcement last week of a request to conduct sworn and transcribed interviews with five named State Department officials next week.

"Through our ongoing investigation, we have determined these five individuals have important information that is critical to uncovering how and why the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and the injury of 47 more, and in the abandonment of more than a thousand U.S. citizens and hundreds of thousands of our Afghan partners in a country controlled by terrorists," McCaul said of the request. "It is crucial they speak with the committee without delay. As we continue to gather evidence, the Committee will continue to interview additional current and former administration officials involved in the planning and execution of the withdrawal."

Latest News

© 2023 - Patriot News Alerts