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McCaul postpones Blinken contempt markup after secretary agrees to produce documents

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said he is postponing a markup for a contempt resolution of State Secretary Antony Blinken after he agreed to produce the subpoenaed documents on the U.S’s exit from Afghanistan in 2021.

“I had a good conversation with the secretary last night, and he agreed to produce the documents,” McCaul told The Hill on Thursday. “In the spirit of good faith negotiations, I’ve postponed the markup, with the understanding that these documents will be produced.”

McCaul said he was told the committee would start receiving the documents Thursday morning.

The postponement is the latest development in a more-than-year-long battle between the Foreign Affairs Committee and the State Department over documents related to the country’s deadly pullout from Afghanistan in August 2021. McCaul has repeatedly demanded the documents as part of Republicans’ investigation into what McCaul called a “chaotic” withdrawal from the Middle Eastern country.

The Texas Republican sent a letter to Blinken last week, threatening to hold the State Secretary in contempt of Congress if he did not hand over notes from the State Department’s After-Action Review (AAR) of the Afghanistan withdrawal. McCaul has claimed this review “found significant failures” in the department’s response.

McCaul told The Hill on Thursday the documents will “provide crucial information” for the committee’s investigation.

The contempt resolution markup was initially scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m.

“I take the secretary at his word that we will get all these documents. But if the situation changes, I will have to revisit all our options to [ensure] they are produced,” McCaul said.

McCaul’s latest threat comes months after the committee issued a subpoena in July requesting the State Department hand over the documents. In August, McCaul claimed the department only turned in a “meager 73 pages of significantly duplicative materials” by the subpoena’s July 25 deadline.

Ambassador Daniel Smith, who led the After-Action Review investigation, later told the committee in August the report was partly based on conversations conducted with officials at the department. The State Department has not turned over these documents after numerous requests.

Nearly a year ago, McCaul issued a separate subpoena for a sensitive diplomatic cable on the withdrawal. The State Department missed the deadline, previously telling The Hill that Blinken offered to brief the chair without providing the actual document. McCaul claimed a briefing or summary would not fulfill the subpoena and threatened in May to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress.

The State Department eventually agreed to allow all committee members to view the diplomatic cable the following month.

The Hill reached out to the State Department for comment.

The Hill’s Mychael Schnell contributed reporting.

Source: The Hill

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