Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez threatened to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after he declined to appear in front of the committee during a hearing about the manner with which the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan.
Menendez made the comment during the hearing on Tuesday morning in which the committee heard Secretary of State Antony Blinken's testimony about the withdrawal.
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Austin's refusal to testify "will affect my personal judgment on Department of Defense nominees," he said in addition to raising the possibility of a subpoena for Austin's testimony. "Mr. Secretary, the execution of the U.S. withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed," the New Jersey Democrat added, speaking to Blinken.
Blinken appeared in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee a day earlier and faced harsh rebukes from members of both parties.
The U.S. ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan in late August, though the final days did not proceed how the Biden administration anticipated. The Taliban easily and swiftly defeated the Afghan military and overthrew the government, despite the U.S. having trained and provided equipment for them.
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With the Taliban assuming control of Afghanistan and the United States on its way out, the U.S. and NATO launched a historic evacuation effort to help third-country nationals and Afghan allies who could be at risk under the new Taliban regime. They were able to evacuate more than 120,000 people safely during that time, with an overwhelming majority of those evacuations taking place after the Taliban rose to power around Aug. 15.
The U.S. military pulled out of Afghanistan before all of the American citizens and legal residents could depart the country, leaving them behind. Biden administration officials repeatedly said the mission and those people's way out of Afghanistan now reside in the diplomatic channels of the State Department instead of with the Department of Defense.
Original Location: Democratic Senate chairman threatens to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for Afghanistan withdrawal testimony
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