Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez threatened to “compel” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
“I’m very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today,” Menendez, the committee chairman, said in his opening remarks to an appearance by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“I expect the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future and if he does not, I may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him and others over the course of these last 20 years to testify,” Menendez said. (RELATED: ‘ISIS Will Have An Opportunity To Grow’: Gen. Jack Keane Says Leaving Taliban In Control Of Afghanistan ‘Looms Heavy’ Over 9/11 Anniversary)
“A full accounting of the U.S. response to this crisis is not complete without the pentagon, especially when it comes to understanding the complete collapse of the U.S.-trained and funded afghan military,” he continued. “His decision not to appear before the committee will affect my personal judgment on the Department of Defense nominees.”
Menendez also asked the Biden administration “to remain focused on Afghanistan” and that the “world bear witness and take action” against political and religious abuses from the Taliban. The senator also said the response from the White House throughout the Afghanistan withdrawal has “often been vague or contradictory.” (RELATED: Former Green Beret Rep. Waltz: ‘Taliban Are … Pulling Out Young Boys And Killing Them’ To Eradicate Any Future Opposition)
The Senate Armed Services Committee has also invited Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to attend an open hearing in order to answer questions about the Afghanistan withdrawal.
The secretary of state’s testimony on the Afghanistan withdrawal follows his Sept. 5-8 trip to Doha, Qatar, and Ramstein, Germany. The State Department described the trip as a way for Blinken to thank American allies.