The House Foreign Affairs Committee wants to interview President Joe Biden’s former White House press secretary and other members of his administration about the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The chaotic withdrawal resulted in the deaths of 13 American service members and sparked a refugee crisis wherein the Biden administration resettled tens of thousands of displaced people from Afghanistan across 46 states.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he wanted to speak with former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the information she gave to the public in the wake of the withdrawal.
“The messages she was sending out from the White House were so different from what was happening on the ground. John Kirby made the comment that no weapons were left behind, which is insane,” said McCaul during a Sept. 10 appearance on State of the Union. “There are $7 billion of weapons. And I can show you the tapes of the weapons and the cash that were left behind, Ned Price at the State Department making rosy comments.”
“We sent letters to have them testify, all giving a rosy picture, while at the same time what was happening on the ground was very different,” McCaul added. “I don’t know where this is going to end, Jake, but, as a former federal prosecutor, I’m going to follow all the facts.”
At a press briefing two days before the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, Psaki told reporters that the efforts to evacuate Americans and “our Afghan partners” were going well after reports suggested Afghans with suspected ISIS ties had been evacuated to neighboring countries. She stressed that there was a “stringent vetting process” in place as part of the airlift efforts.
“I would not say that is anything but a success,” said Psaki.
“I’d also note that, as I said — as we conveyed in the statement — that our objective and our focus, and the focus of the Commander-in-Chief, is always going to be on the safety and security of the men and women who are serving our country in the military,” she added.
McCaul told Tapper that he did not hear from Secretary of State Antony Blinken until he threatened to hold the secretary in contempt. The committee chairman began contempt proceedings against Blinken in May after the secretary refused to comply with a subpoena compelling him to release redacted parts of the Dissent Channel cable sent on or around July 13, 2021, regarding Afghanistan.
“The Department is now in violation of its legal obligation to produce these documents and must do so immediately. The Committee has offered in good faith numerous extensions of the original April 4 subpoena return date,” McCaul wrote in a letter to Blinken warning him of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s intention to take action. “The Department has cited its 1975 refusal to provide Congress with a Dissent Channel cable on Cyprus to Congress written by the aforementioned Ambassador Boyatt as a precedent for not producing the July 2021 cable, but the facts of this example clearly demonstrate the insufficiency of relying on a summary.”
McCaul said “there is no reason why this administration” should not give the gold-star families of the servicemen who died in Afghanistan “all the answers.”
“All they want is the truth. They want transparency,” said McCaul. “So I feel like I’m the advocate on behalf of the gold-star families.”