Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the House Foreign Affairs Committee is moving to hold him in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoena requests related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
There is no question that the Committee has a legitimate oversight interest in the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan at a huge loss of life, abandonment of thousands of allies, and seven billion dollars in military equipment. The committee specifically wants to review a full copy of a dissent cable that had been signed by nearly two dozen State Department officials warning Blinken of a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan a month before the terrorist group’s takeover occurred.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the cable undermines the claims of the Biden Administration that it had no forewarning of the chaos that would unfold in the country.
The State Department has stonewalled the Committee, offering oral testimony and a summary while refusing to turn over the document. In his letter, McCaul warned that “the Department is now in violation of its legal obligation to produce these documents and must do so immediately.”
McCaul added that “It strains credulity to believe that the official responsible for preparing the cable summary and briefing Congress on it would be unable to provide this information.”
This has not been a great month for Blinken. He was earlier identified as the Biden campaign associate who “triggered” the infamous letter of 51 former intelligence officials claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop was likely “Russian disinformation.”
He was then named as a contact of Hunter Biden in the Obama Administration as part of an alleged influence peddling operation. (Blinken previously denied such contacts and was accused of lying under oath).
Even among those who wanted to end the war, the withdrawal from Afghanistan was condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike. Given the loss of lives and equipment (as well as the impact on U.S. standing), there could not be more obvious subject matter for congressional inquiry.
The question is whether Blinken and the Administration really want to test this in court. Attorney General Merrick Garland would likely decline to prosecute Blinken for contempt (despite his green lighting such prosecutions against former Trump officials), but the Congress could go to court to compel production.
The Biden Administration has racked up an impressive line of losses in court. It has already succeeded in looking like it wants to hide the document. If it is classified, it can be handled in a classified setting, but it should be produced rather than trigger a new fight over the separation of powers.