Ned Price plays down threat of subpoena by McCaul on Afghanistan withdrawal

US State Department spokesman Ned Price skimmed over a question on a possible subpoena for withholding documents relating to the disastrous troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and said the department was working as “expeditiously as possible” to accommodate the request.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Price said the State Department is working to accommodate the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s request for documents on the ‘catastrophic’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 but that it has provided “hundreds of pages of documents” already.

“We’re working as expeditiously as possible to accommodate what was just about by any measure an extensive and detailed request, and our provision of information and documents to the committee will continue as we collect and process additional responsive records,” he said.

He stated that the Secretary of State Antony Blinken had “reaffirmed directly to Chairman McCaul his commitment to cooperate with the committee’s work, and we’ve since provided hundreds of pages of documents responsive to the chairman’s requests on Afghanistan.”

This comes after McCaul’s interview on CBS‘ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, where he discussed the committee’s ongoing efforts to get answers from the Biden administration on the withdrawal and said he is prepared to issue a subpoena if the State Department fails to comply with the committee’s document request ahead of Blinken’s testimony later this month.

McCaul said the documents he specifically wants are the Dissent Channel cable reportedly sent on July 13, 2021, by 23 State Department officials and the Department’s response to it; the After-Action Report prepared under Ambassador Daniel Smith; and two iterations of U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP).

Ned Price said on Monday however, that the State Department has “provided more than 150 briefings to bipartisan members and staff on Afghanistan policy since the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. Additionally, senior officials from this department have appeared in public hearings and answered questions on Afghanistan, and the department has responded to numerous requests for information from members and their staffs related to Afghanistan policy.”

On Sunday, McCaul said the State Department has not been compliant with their document request and that “cooperation is always key. But they’re not cooperating. If he (Blinken) fails to cooperate with my document production request by, you know, the time he testifies on March 23rd, I am prepared to issue a subpoena.”

He also said he is intent on continuing investigations into the withdrawal.