Secretary of State Antony Blinken could soon face a contempt of Congress charge after his office ignored multiple subpoenas for documents from the Republican-led House Oversight Committee.
House Oversight Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, says Blinken and the State Department have blown past multiple deadlines to provide documents relating to President Biden's botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in recent months. He is now threatening to hold the top Biden official in contempt if he continues to refuse to provide the documents.
"The Department is now in violation of its legal obligation to produce these documents and must do so immediately," McCaul wrote in a Monday statement. "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."
McCaul and his fellow Republicans seek access to a dissent report from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul dated to just before Biden's withdrawal plans were set in motion. Dissent reports detail any misgivings U.S. officials may have with a current plan of action.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken's department has failed to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents relating to President Biden's administration, House Republicans charge. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul has given Secretary Blinken an ultimatum. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Blinken blew past the original deadline to supply the documents in March, then again in April when McCaul pushed back the deadline. McCaul set his latest line in the sand at May 1, and Blinken again refused to provide the documents.
Rather than comply with the subpoena, the State Department offered to give McCaul and his committee a briefing on the documents' contents. McCaul accepted the briefing in April but clarified that it did not constitute complying with the subpoena.
Despite the briefing, McCaul and other Republicans on the committee said they still had unanswered questions that could only be satisfied by seeing the documents.
"It’s unfortunate that despite having received a classified briefing on the dissent channel cable, as well as a written summary, that the House Foreign Affairs Committee continues to pursue this unnecessary and unproductive action," State Department principal deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said Monday. "Nevertheless, we will continue to respond to appropriate oversight inquiries and provide Congress the information it needs to do its job while protecting the ability of State Department employees to do theirs."
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was among the lowest points in Biden's presidency. While the vast majority of Americans supported the decision to leave the country, they also overwhelmingly disapproved of Biden's handling of the operation.