House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul announced Sunday that he has formally requested a series of transcribed interviews from current and former State Department officials as part of his panel’s investigation into the administration’s withdrawal. Biden from Afghanistan.
The Republican-led committee’s requests for on-the-record interviews are the first to examine the chaotic final weeks of the 2021 retreat, during which a suicide bomber attacked the airport in Kabul and killed 13 US service members and more than 100 Afghans.
The Texas Republican sent the requests Friday to Jonathan Mennuti, former acting chief of staff to acting Under Secretary of State for Management Carol Perez; Mark Evans, former acting deputy assistant secretary of Afghanistan; James DeHart, former leader of the Afghanistan Task Force; Consul General Jayne Howell; and former Ambassador Daniel Smith, who led the State Department after the withdrawal review action.
McCaul requested that witnesses contact the committee to arrange their interviews on May 22.
“Through our ongoing investigation, we have learned that these five individuals have vital information that is critical to understanding how and why the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of 13 US service members and injuring 47 others, and leaving more than a thousand US citizens and hundreds of thousands of our Afghan partners in a country controlled by terrorists ,” McCaul said in a statement Sunday.
“It is important that they speak to the committee without delay. As we continue to gather evidence, the Committee will continue to interview additional current and former administration officials involved in the planning and implementation of the back,” he added.
The requests come after McCaul threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena for a dissent cable written in March by former US diplomats in Kabul. criticized the administration’s plans to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.
McCaul said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he is “ready to move forward” with contempt of Congress proceedings against Blinken for not providing the requested material.
“This is the first time a secretary of state has been demoted by Congress and it’s criminal contempt. So I don’t take it lightly,” McCaul said.
A State Department spokesman previously called the panel’s threat to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress an “unnecessary and counterproductive action.”