House Panel Plans To Hold Blinken In Contempt Of Congress

The GOP-led House is preparing to hold Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in contempt of Congress for his refusal to hand over documents related to the Biden administration’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021.

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) announced that his committee will look into a resolution that recommends holding Blinken in contempt of Congress due to his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued in July for documents, including interview notes used in drafting the the After-Action Review on the Afghanistan withdrawal.

“It has been nearly 14 months since we first requested these documents that are critical to our investigation in the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. The ball is in the secretary’s court – if he wants to avoid being the first Secretary of State in history to be held in contempt of Congress, he can provide these documents,” McCaul said.

McCaul had indicated the panel’s readiness to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress in a letter on Monday in which he wrote, “The law does not afford the State Department blanket authority to hide behind ‘Executive Branch confidentiality interests’ to obstruct Congress’s access to the truth.”

“The Committee has pursued the AAR team’s interview notes in good faith and with every effort to compromise. The Department has not negotiated in good faith and has failed to both comply with the Committee’s July 2023 subpoena and fulfill your August 11 personal commitment to cooperate with this investigation,” he added.

While State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that the agency has given the committee thousands of pages of documents, he also said that the department still has to be wary of the Executive Branch’s confidentiality rights.

A markup session on the issue is set for March 7. Miller said that the department will reach out to the Foreign Affairs Committee before the markup session takes place next week in order to see if a resolution can be reached.

Democrats in the Foreign Affairs Committee have called McCaul’s plan to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress “a political stunt,” stating that the State Department cooperated with the panel in good faith.

In a tweet, an account belonging to the faction wrote, “RM @RepGregoryMeeks: @StateDept
has engaged in good faith with the Committee’s oversight requests: providing 16 witnesses for 100+ hours of interviews and 1000s of pages of documents related to the After Action Review.”

“It is Congress’ responsibility to engage in responsible oversight, but threatening contempt in the face of the State Department’s ongoing cooperation is nothing more than a political stunt,” the tweet read further.