The State Department will allow the top two members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to view a dissent cable on the withdrawal from Afghanistan at the State Department – a significant concession to Republican Chairman Michael McCaul ahead of a planned resolution to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress.
“In our letter to the committee today, we will invite Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Meeks to view the dissent channel cable here at the State Department in camera with appropriate personal information redacted,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Wednesday.
“Chairman McCaul himself has said that this is what he is interested in, and so it is our sincere hope that our offer here will sufficiently satisfy their request for information,” Patel said at a department briefing.
Patel said the letter would be sent later in the day.
The move comes after McCaul announced earlier Wednesday that the committee planned to mark up a resolution next week to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over the classified cable, which McCaul subpoenaed in late March.
“it is unfortunate that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has continued to pursue this even before the State Department had the opportunity to respond to the Chairman and the committee,” Patel said of the planned resolution markup, and reiterated that the department believes “that we have provided sufficient information through our classified briefing, through the written summary, and we believe that these efforts already should have and would satisfy their request for information.”
Asked by CNN why the State Department did not offer the private review of the cable from the get-go, Patel emphasized the State Department’s argument about the need to protect the “integrity” of the dissent channel. He said he believes that review will protect that integrity of the channel.
“In any information request with a congressional body, there is a natural accommodation and discussion process, and we were engaged deeply in that and continue to be engaged deeply in that,” he added.
“I will also note that at every turn, the State Department has offered legitimate and sufficient steps forward to convey the information that was requested. We have even before this new Congress was sworn into office we have understood the importance of legitimate oversight requests and requests for legitimate information on the time period of our evacuation from Afghanistan, but on other foreign policy issues as well, and so we have engaged with Congress on all of the matters in good faith,” he said.
CNN’s Alayna Treene and Melanie Zanona contributed reporting.