PICTURE: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) gives an opening statement during an organizational meeting for the 118th session of Congress on Wednesday, February 8, 2023.
BY ELLEN MITCHELL - 05/15/23 7:37 PM ET
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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on Monday said his panel would vote next week on whether to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress if the State Department does not give up a classified cable sent ahead of the fatal and chaotic U.S. pullout of Afghanistan.
McCaul issued a subpoena to Blinken in March for the documents written by at least 23 diplomats serving at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in July 2021.
He views the cable as critically important to understanding why the Biden administration failed to anticipate the fall of the U.S.-backed government and takeover by the Taliban.
The State Department, however, has so far declined to hand over the material.
Should Blinken continue to refuse to comply with the committee’s subpoena, the panel will mark up a resolution holding him in contempt of Congress, which requires a full committee vote. If that passes, a resolution would be sent to the full House for a floor vote, a Congressional aide confirmed to The Hill. “The American people, particularly veterans and gold star families, deserve answers on how the Afghanistan withdrawal went so catastrophically wrong,” McCaul said in a statement, adding that the dissent cable and the department’s official response “are key evidence.”
McCaul first told CNN his committee plans to vote next week on whether to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress unless he complies with the subpoena by Thursday.
The threat escalates the ongoing battle between the Biden administration and the House GOP to release the sensitive documents, which reportedly warned of the grave risk that Kabul’s government would collapse.
Blinken has said his department was not turning over the physical copy of the cable to maintain the integrity of the Dissent Channel, which is a protected way for diplomats to raise serious and grave concerns on foreign policy directly to the secretary of State without fear of reprisal or retribution.
The State Department has sought a way to appease the committee through a classified briefing on the cable and a written summary. But McCaul has not relented, earlier this month pledging to hold Blinken in contempt.
Blinken would be the first secretary of State held in contempt of Congress. Such an event is possible because Republicans have a slim majority in the House. Should the resolution pass, it serves as a referral to the Justice Department to consider charges.