Michigan Republican Rep. Peter Meijer and Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton secretly traveled to Afghanistan’s capital Tuesday to witness the U.S. evacuations underway.
The trip to Kabul, first reported by The Washington Post, took less than 24 hours overall. It came as the Biden administration attempts to evacuate before an imposed deadline of Aug. 31 thousands of military personnel, Americans in the country and Afghans who aided U.S. troops.
Meijer and Moulton said in a joint statement that they traveled covertly “to minimize the risk and disruption to people on the ground,” adding that they “left on a plane with empty seats, seated in crew-only seats to ensure that nobody who needed a seat would lose one because of our presence.”
“As veterans we care deeply about the situation on the ground at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” they added. “America has a moral obligation to our citizens and loyal allies, and we must make sure that obligation is being kept.” (RELATED: State Dept Warns Americans Who ‘Remain In Afghanistan’ Will Be ‘Without Assistance,’ Then Withdraws It)
Moulton said the scene he witnessed was “indescribable.”
Today with @RepMeijer I visited Kabul airport to conduct oversight on the evacuation.
Witnessing our young Marines and soldiers at the gates, navigating a confluence of humanity as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen, was indescribable. pic.twitter.com/bWGQh1iw2c
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) August 25, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemingly responded to their trip in a Dear Colleague letter Tuesday.
“Given the urgency of this situation, the desire of some Members to travel to Afghanistan and the surrounding areas is understandable and reflective of the high priority that we place on the lives of those on the ground,” Pelosi wrote. “However, I write to reiterate that the Departments of Defense and State have requested that Members not travel to Afghanistan and the region during this time of danger.”
The trip angered Biden administration officials, who described it as little more than an attempt for good PR.
“It’s as moronic as it is selfish,” the Post quoted an anonymous senior administration official. “They’re taking seats away from Americans and at-risk Afghans — while putting our diplomats and service members at greater risk — so they can have a moment in front of the cameras.”
“It’s one of the most irresponsible things I’ve heard a lawmaker do,” another diplomat familiar with the situation told the paper. “It absolutely deserves admonishment.”
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