Republican Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin said Tuesday that the State Department attempted to sabotage an over-land rescue mission in Afghanistan.
Mullin joined anchor Brianna Keilar on CNN’s “New Day” to discuss the rescue operation that ultimately got one American woman and her three American children out of Afghanistan. (RELATED: GOP Congressman Allegedly Threatened An American Ambassador While On A Rogue Mission To Enter Afghanistan: REPORT)
Keilar began the segment with a story about the first reported overland escape from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, noting that Mullin had challenged the U.S. State Department’s version of the story.
“Thanks for having me on, and thanks for covering this story,” Mullin said.
“First things first here, because I think there’s going to be a lot of curiosity about who these folks are that came out over land, the first people we are aware who have done this,” Keilar said. “You have been working with a team of veterans and others. Tell us who these people are, and tell us about their journey, what it was like?”
Mullin explained that he and Republican Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson had received requests from an American woman and her three children, and they had worked out a plan to quietly go into Afghanistan and get them out.
“It was our intentions of making no press statements at all about this. We were simply going to fly in, get Miriam and her kids and a couple other American citizens and leave. But when we were trying to enter into Afghanistan, things went really sideways,” Mullin continued. “We started getting all types of pushback from the State Department, and so we found ourselves not being able to get her out through HKIA, which is the Kabul International Airport.”
Mullin added that even though they had gotten her to the gate multiple times — even while on the phone with the State Department — they had not been successful in getting anyone to open a gate.
“On the night of the 29th through the day of the 30th, we were trying over and over again, actually on the 28th, 29th and 30th, we were at gates, I was on the phone with the operations center trying to get Miriam and her kids out of Kabul. So when the administration says that every American that wanted out could get out, that’s an absolute lie,” Mullin said. “We’re working with 27 American citizens right now that I assure you all of them wanted out, and we couldn’t get them out. When that failed —”
Keilar then pushed back, noting that Mullin had received criticism for attempting to get into Afghanistan without authorization from Congressional leadership or the State Department.
“You said you didn’t necessarily want to be talking about this in the press, but here you are, and you’re taking very much issue with how the State Department is characterizing this, so I just want to get to the bottom of what you’re taking issue with because the State Department said the U.S. has facilitated the safe departure of four U.S. citizens by overland route from Afghanistan,” Keilar said. “Just to be clear, are you saying they did not facilitate the overland departure of these four or embassy staff were not present at the exit?”
“They got present on the second day,” Mullin said. “I’m going to leave where we brought her across out of it because we hopefully will get more people through. We had her there for 24 hours before the State Department was even aware she was there. They didn’t show up until a few hours after — or before she got across. For them to say they facilitated, that’s a lie.”
Mullin went on to accuse the State Department of actively working against the extraction efforts, saying, “The State Department was actually told at one time, actually told the embassy in the country not to assist us in any way.”
“It was until the second day that we almost had her out that the State Department came in, and when they came in, they did come in to help, I will give you that,” he continued. “For them to take credit and say they negotiated with the Taliban, our guys with the Sentinel Foundation literally walked across the bridge and was trying to negotiate with the Taliban, not the State Department, our guys … When I seen the State Department come out and take credit for this, it is absolutely a lie.”