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State Department grants access to Biden Afghanistan documents after GOP threatens contempt charge

House Republicans will be able to view documents this week relating to President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal after months of stonewalling by the State Department.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, will access the documents at the State Department offices this week after threatening to hit Secretary of State Antony Blinken with a contempt of Congress charge. The document, a dissent cable from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, details any misgivings State Department officials there had with Biden’s withdrawal plans.

McCaul had subpoenaed the document multiple times in the early months of this year, but Blinken had failed to provide it. The State Department instead offered a briefing on the document’s contents, a move McCaul accepted while still demanding to see the document itself.

Antony Blinken G-20 India

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken relented to Republican pressure to access materials relating to President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

The pair will view the document in full, but the names of those who contributed to the dissent report will be redacted.

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Blinken has argued from the beginning that providing access to the dissent report could dissuade State Department employees from being truthful in future dissent reports. The document is meant to be an opportunity for officials to be candid regarding upcoming operations.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) arrives to a caucus meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Blinken blew past the original subpoena deadline to supply the documents in March, then again in April when McCaul pushed back the deadline. McCaul set his latest line in the sand at May 1, and Blinken again refused to provide the documents.

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“I don’t take this lightly because a Secretary of State’s never been held in contempt by Congress before,” McCaul told Fox. “And I think the secretary realizes that and the gravity. They probably prefer not to go down this route as well. But if they do not comply, we’re prepared to move forward next week with a markup for resolution of contempt.”

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Even if passed by the House, the contempt charge would largely have been a symbolic move, as President Biden’s Justice Department would likely decline to prosecute the case.

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