Friday 1 March 2024

House Committee Prepares To Hold Blinken In Contempt Of Congress

 The GOP-led House is moving ahead with plans to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress in a dispute over documents related to the Biden administration‘s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) announced on Thursday his panel will consider a resolution that recommends the House find Blinken in contempt of Congress for his alleged refusal to comply with a subpoena issued in July. A markup session is scheduled to take place on March 7.

“It has been nearly 14 months since we first requested these documents that are critical to our investigation in the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan,” McCaul said in a statement. “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 noted in a letter on Monday that his panel was ready to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress if the State Department did not provide requested documents, particularly interview notes used to draft the After-Action Review on the Afghanistan withdrawal, after “countless” accommodations.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters this week that the agency has provided thousands of pages of documents to the committee and made people available for transcribed interviews in recognition of the panel’s “legitimate” oversight activities.


But, Miller said, the department also has to contend with the Executive Branch’s “legitimate” confidentiality rights. He emphasized on Thursday that the agency will be in contact with the Foreign Affairs Committee and “try” to reach a resolution before the mark-up session can take place next week.

Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats said the State Department has engaged with the panel “in good faith” and called McCaul’s threat to hold Blinken in contempt a “political stunt.”

The clash is one of multiple points of contention between the House and the Biden administration as President Joe Biden seeks re-election this year.

Earlier this month, Republicans voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of the border crisis. A Senate trial has yet to be scheduled.

There is also a corruption-focused impeachment inquiry into Biden. And, on Thursday, GOP lawmakers grilled Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin over his secretive hospitalization following a procedure to treat prostate cancer.

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