Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez threatened to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other Biden administration officials who declined to shop up for a hearing on the Afghanistan withdrawal, Axios reports.
Menendez, a senior Democrat who has been critical of the withdrawal, threatened to force Austin to testify before the committee.
"I'm very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today,” he said. “I expect the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future. And if he does not, I may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him."
The chairman even threatened to block Biden administration appointees, stating that Austin’s refusal to testify "will affect my personal judgment on Department of Defense nominees.”
Menendez chewed out Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the hearing, calling the execution of the Afghanistan withdrawal “clearly and fatally flawed.”
The senor vowed accountability for the multiple administrations that “lied” about the stability of the Afghan government.
Menendez was an exception among the committee’s Democrats, who largely defended the pullout.
Blinken pushed back on the criticism, blaming the Trump administration for forcing the Biden administration’s hand after signing a deal with the Taliban last year.
"We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan," he said.
Blinken defends withdrawal:
Blinken told the committee that the administration was planning for a “worst-case scenario” since the spring but declined to provide the committee with a State Department cable that warned of an imminent collapse of the Afghan government because those cables are meant to "only to be shared with senior officials in the department."
Blinken said the administration is “still tabulating” the number of Special Immigrant Visa applicants who need to evacuate Afghanistan but acknowledged that “thousands” of Afghan green card holders are still in the country.
He also acknowledged that while the Taliban controls some of the $80 billion in military equipment provided to Afghan forces, much of it is “inoperable” and “none of it” poses a strategic threat.