US Congress Threatens Blinken with Contempt

    US Congress Threatens Blinken with Contempt
    Last updated May 08, 2023
    Image credit: cnn


    • US House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is threatening to hold US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress if he refuses to hand over May 11 diplomatic cables relating to the 2021 US withdrawal from Afghanistan.[1]
    • Blinken was first subpoenaed in March over cables sent by US diplomats who were criticizing the withdrawal plan through the "dissent channel" — which allows diplomats to voice concerns directly with the US Dept. of State and receive a formal response. McCaul has called the information handed over thus far "insufficient," following several extensions of the deadline.[2]
    • In a letter, McCaul called the measure "necessary" to enforce the subpoena, claiming the State Dept. is violating its "legal obligation to produce these documents." A State Dept. spokesperson called the move "unnecessary and unproductive" while assuring that the Department will respond to "appropriate oversight inquiries."[3]
    • A contempt of Congress charge would require a committee vote before being sent to the full House for a vote. If passed, it would serve as a referral for the Department of Justice to consider charges.[4]
    • The House GOP investigation into the Afghanistan withdrawal, which saw the deaths of 13 US service members, has sought the release of classified documents related to the exit. A White House summary of the classified documents released in April acknowledged shortcomings in the evacuation while placing significant blame on the Trump administration.[5]


    Republican narrative

    The US withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster that the Bidden administration bungled. Congress has a legal right to see whatever documentation it wants to see, but Blinken has missed several deadlines to turn over the requested documents. Contempt charges against Blinken would just be part of Congress fulfilling its role of holding the administration accountable.

    Democratic narrative

    Levying contempt charges at Blinken is unnecessary. The administration and State Dept. are willing to continue to keep Congress informed within parameters of what is reasonable and ethical. Members of Congress have already received a classified briefing, and the White House and State have each shared more than they initially wanted to provide Congress. But releasing too many classified documents would have a dangerous and chilling effect on confidential discourse within the administration.

    Political split



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