The House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to Proceeded by holding Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. The committee is aiming for a floor vote in early June, the panel’s Republican chairman told CBS News.
“It’s a path I wouldn’t take, but it’s necessary,” committee chairman Michael McCall said in an interview on May 11, the eve of providing State Department records to the House committee.
The GOP-led committee issued a subpoena in late March for an internal classified State Department document known as a “dissent cable” written by 23 department employees in Kabul, Afghanistan, which warned, according to the Wall Street Journal, that the Biden administration’s planned withdrawal Kabul will fall after the deadline of August 31, 2021. The Journal report also stated that the cable indicated that the Taliban were rapidly gaining ground and suggested ways to quickly remove the cable.
McCall have for weeks has been warned that he would subpoena Blinken if he did not turn over his and his response to the dissent.
“This is the first time a secretary of state has been held in contempt by Congress,” McCall said.
During the Trump administration, House Democrats threatened to impeach then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over records related to the Senate investigation of Hunter Biden. The threat of defamation was dropped after the document was provided to a House committee.
Asked about the deadline for a contempt resolution against Blinken, McCall said he plans to move quickly, with the committee scheduled to consider the measure on May 24, followed by a vote by the full House in early June.
Still, McCall said, “We’re giving (Blinken) plenty of time to respond. It’s also important to remember that this is also criminal contempt… It will be voted on by the House and then go to judicial proceedings.”
As part of the committee’s efforts to reach middle ground with the State Department, McCall said he offered to review the cable in a private setting without requiring the committee to provide documents. He also suggested that the State Department redact the names of officials who signed the memo, the committee said.
Hours before the May 11 deadline, a State Department spokesman told reporters, “The Department has already provided a classified briefing and a summary of the dissent’s channel cables, as well as the Department’s response. We believe this information has been sufficient to meet what the committee has requested so far. did, but we will engage with them again.”
CBS News has asked the State Department for further comment. A spokesman referred to Thursday’s statement to the press.
— Melissa Quinn and Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.