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Winning the Messaging Battle, Part I
Tipsheet

Chairman McCaul Is Not Playing Games With Antony Blinken

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

Now that Republicans in control of the House, the Biden administration isn't able to get away so easily with ruining the country and not being held accountable for it. On Monday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) warned that a contempt of Congress citation could come for Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The committee will vote next week, according to The Hill. 

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McCaul, as Katie reported last week, had raised the threat of contempt last week if Blinken did not comply with a subpoena for the State Department to hand over a classified cable regarding the chaotic and catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

If held in contempt, Blinken would be the first Secretary of State held to face criminal charges. If the committee and then the full House votes in favor of holding Blinken in contempt, it would be referred to the Department of Justice to bring forth charges. 

As reporting from The Hill mentioned, which includes a statement from McCaul:

Should Blinken continue to refuse to comply with the committee’s subpoena, the panel will mark up a resolution holding him in contempt of Congress, which requires a full committee vote. If that passes, a resolution would be sent to the full House for a floor vote, a Congressional aide confirmed to The Hill.  

“The American people, particularly veterans and gold star families, deserve answers on how the Afghanistan withdrawal went so catastrophically wrong,” McCaul said in a statement, adding that the dissent cable and the department’s official response “are key evidence.”

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The State Department appears to believe it can get away with this. As The Hill also mentioned:

Blinken has said his department was not turning over the physical copy of the cable to maintain the integrity of the Dissent Channel, which is a protected way for diplomats to raise serious and grave concerns on foreign policy directly to the secretary of State without fear of reprisal or retribution. 

The State Department has sought a way to appease the committee through a classified briefing on the cable and a written summary. But McCaul has not relented, earlier this month pledging to hold Blinken in contempt.

The significance of holding Blinken in contempt is not lost on McCaul. During his Sunday appearance on ABC News' "This Week," McCaul acknowledged to host Jonathan Karl that Blinken would be the first to hold the position to be in contempt of Congress, also reminding that it's criminal contempt. He emphasized "I take it very seriously" and "I don't take it lightly."

At the end of the day, though, McCaul reminded "it's his" choice, speaking of Blinken, especially as the committee has "a legitimate subpoena." Speaking further about the committee's role, McCaul pointed out that "there's no executive privilege" and that "a dissenting cable of 23 employees out of the embassy before Afghanistan fell, stating why they dissented to the administration's policy is very relevant to congressional oversight."

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McCaul also believes that the department offering the summary is "another sort of peace offering, if you will" and "a delay tactic."

Such refusal to comply adds further insult to injury when it comes to the botched withdrawal, and there's certainly been no shortage of shameful reactions from members of the administration. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had shared "I don't have any regrets" about the withdrawal when asked by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) during a hearing in late March. 

According to a POLITICO report from last month, Blinken did, however, acknowledge that "More could and should have been done" to prepare for Afghanistan, though the report also notes Blinken "didn’t commit to releasing the report publicly, stating that he preferred the department look forward instead of creating a 'fixation' on the past."

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Blinken is facing other pressing problems, including to do with getting a letter written and signed leading up to the 2020 election that sought to discredit the story about Hunter Biden by referring to his abandoned laptop as "Russian disinformation." Such actions have led to calls for impeachment


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