1 of 3 | Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, threatened Secretary of State Antony Blinken with contempt of Congress in a letter on Friday, urging him to produce documents related to the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
May 8 (UPI) -- Rep. Michael McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, threatened Secretary of State Antony Blinken with contempt of Congress in an effort to get specific information about the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
McCaul, R-Texas, shared a letter, dated Friday, stating that the information the State Department has provided thus far is "insufficient" and the agency is "now in violation of its legal obligation" to produce the requested documents, including a March 2021 dissent cable written by U.S. diplomats.
The letter stated that Blinken has until 6 p.m. on Thursday to produce the documents or provide legal reasoning for declining to present them.
If he does not comply, McCaul said the committee would pursue contempt of Congress charges and a possible civil enforcement proceeding against Blinken.
"It is inherently problematic for the department, which is the subject of the committee's investigation, to be permitted to withhold key material evidence and substitute its own abbreviated characterizations of that evidence for the original documents," McCaul said in the letter.
The State Department responded to the letter, saying it was "unfortunate" that the committee was continuing to pursue what it called an "unnecessary and unproductive action."
"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," it said.
The letter marked the latest effort by House Republicans to put pressure on the Biden administration with its various investigations into the White House on a range of issues.
McCaul subpoenaed Blinken in March, seeking the Dissent Channel cable -- a confidential channel operated by the State Department and used by foreign affairs officials and other government employees to share dissenting opinions about the government or matters of foreign affairs.
Twenty-three U.S. Embassy staffers signed the cable in Kabul on July 13, 2021, foretelling the Taliban's threat to swiftly advance and take control of Afghanistan. They warned that the Afghan military would be unable to prevent the advance.
Following the subpoena, the State Department shared a one-page summary of the cable, and a summary of its response to the document in addition to holding a classified briefing for members of the committee last month.
McCaul, however, has continued to insist that the committee must provide the full details.
"The dissent cable and official response are critical and material to the committee's investigation into the catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal," McCaul wrote on Friday.