AG Garland Must Investigate Afghan President, GOP Members of House Oversight Committee Say

Republican members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee are urging the Biden administration to launch an investigation into allegations that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul with duffel bags of money.

Ranking GOP committee member Rep. James Comer (Ky.) and Rep. Glenn Grothman (Wisc.), the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on National Security, expressed concerns that Ghani may have "embezzled from accounts funded by U.S. taxpayer funds" in a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday.

"The United States must do everything in its power to seize any illicitly gained funds that were corruptly embezzled by President Ghani," Comer and Grothman wrote. "If he diverted funds from their intended purposes, the U.S. should bring him to justice."

"Not only did President Ghani flee the country of Afghanistan prematurely and contribute to the rapid fall of the American-backed democratic government in Kabul, but he brought with him duffle bags full of cash totaling $169 million dollars," the lawmakers added.

Merrick Garland House Republicans Afghanistan Ghani Embezzlement
Republican lawmakers on Tuesday urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate allegations that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left with "dufflel bags full of cash" while fleeing Kabul as the Taliban advanced earlier this month. Garland is pictured during a Department of Justice news conference in Washington, D.C. on August 5, 2021. Kevin Dietsch/Getty

The congressmen described Ghani as "a coward and a grifter." They noted that American tax dollars had funded $145 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the past two decades, along with another $837 billion spent on funding war efforts, arguing that if Ghani embezzled any funds from the Afghan government he was "likely embezzling U.S. taxpayer funds."

"It is imperative that corrupt foreign government officials not be permitted to personally enrich themselves with U.S. taxpayer money intended to safeguard the welfare and security of the Afghan people," they wrote. "This is particularly the case where President Ghani's reckless and cowardly actions likely contributed to the speed with which the Taliban took over the country and toppled the Afghan government."

Comer and Grothman demanded that Garland meet on August 31 to answer questions about whether any U.S. funds were stolen by Ghani and whether the U.S. has any plans to recover the funds if they were. The Republican lawmakers sent a similar letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the same day.

The Russian embassy in Kabul first alleged that Ghani had left with four cars and helicopter filled with cash, being forced to leave money that would not fit on the airport tarmac. Afghanistan's ambassador to Tajikistan later alleged that Ghani had left with $169 million and called on Interpol to arrest him for stealing Afghan government funds.

Ghani has called the allegations "baseless." In a Facebook video on August 18, while Ghani was in the United Arab Emirates, the former Afghan president defending his quick exit from Kabul and insisted he had done so to avoid being "hanged in front of the eyes of the people of Afghanistan."

Newsweek reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.