House Republicans are moving forward with criminal contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Antony Blinken next Wednesday over his failure to produce documents on the botched Afghanistan withdrawal.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the "full committee will hold a markup to consider a resolution recommending the House of Representatives find U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress."
Putting a markup on the schedule is the first major step towards criminal charges against Blinken, who would be the first secretary of state held in contempt of Congress. If the committee votes to recommend the charges, the matter will be sent to the floor for a full congressional vote in the Republican-controlled chamber.
Blinken missed a subpoena deadline last Thursday to turn over a trove of internal State Department documents to the committee about the bungled Afghanistan evacuation that left 13 Americans dead.
McCaul warned Blinken earlier this month that his continued refusal to hand over the records, which the committee subpoenaed in March, would result in contempt charges. One of the key documents the committee is seeking is a classified cable, which is believed to show the Biden administration knew the Taliban would seize control of the country after the U.S. withdrawal.
"The American people, particularly veterans and gold star families, deserve answers on how the Afghanistan withdrawal went so catastrophically wrong," McCaul told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. "The July 2021 dissent cable from Kabul by 23 officials expressing dire concern over the Biden administration’s policy and the Department’s official response are key evidence."
Blinken would be the first secretary of state—and the third-ever cabinet member—to be held in contempt of Congress. In 1975, the House Select Committee on Intelligence voted to charge then-secretary of state Henry Kissinger for failing to turn over records about covert operations during the Nixon administration, but the committee later withdrew the recommendation. Former attorneys general Eric Holder and Bill Barr were held in contempt in 2012 and 2019, respectively.