RNC Calls for Antony Blinken to Be Fired As Afghanistan Congressional Hearings Begin

The Republican National Committee released a statement early Monday calling for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to be fired as the Afghanistan congressional hearings begin.

Republicans have been highly critical of how the Biden administration handled the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and have been demanding answers as to why American citizens were left behind.

In the statement released by the RNC, Republicans demanded Blinken be held accountable for what the statement described as a list of his failings in properly handling the withdrawal. The headline banner for the statement was "Fire Blinken."

"Blinken's disastrous handling of Afghanistan and weak leadership put American lives in danger, including the lives of Americans still trapped in Afghanistan," the GOP committee said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Antony Blinken Afghanistan briefing
The Republican National Committee is calling for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to be fired as congressional hearings regarding the military withdrawal from Afghanistan begin. Above, Blinken arrives for a briefing on Afghanistan at the U.S. Capitol on August 24, 2021, in Washington. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

In separate House and Senate testimony starting on Monday, Blinken will face lawmakers angry about the administration's response to the quick collapse of the Afghan government and, more specifically, the State Department's response to what many claim was a predictable result in the final days of the American military presence there.

The department has come under heavy criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for not doing enough and not acting quickly enough to get American citizens, legal residents and at-risk Afghans out of the country after the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15.

In remarks prepared for his first appearance, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken sought to deflect allegations of unpreparedness by noting that the Biden administration had inherited a U.S.-Taliban peace deal from its predecessor, along with a languishing program to grant visas Afghans who had worked for the U.S. government.

Blinken, who had publicly predicted in June that a complete Taliban takeover would not happen "from a Friday to a Monday," also moved to pre-empt criticism of his prediction by noting that no one in the U.S. government expected the Afghan government to fall as quickly as it did.

"Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while U.S. forces remained," Blinken says in prepared remarks released by the State Department. He also defended the evacuation effort, saying it succeeded despite near insurmountable odds.

"The evacuation was an extraordinary effort—under the most difficult conditions imaginable—by our diplomats, military, and intelligence professionals," he was set to tell lawmakers. "In the end, we completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with 124,000 people evacuated to safety."

Blinken is very close to President Joe Biden and his job as America's top diplomat is almost certainly safe, but criticism of the administration's handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal has not been limited to Republicans.

Numerous Democrats have also questioned the policy and expressed concern about stranded Americans, green card holders and Afghans who could face retaliation from the Taliban because of their work or ties to the U.S. government over the past 20 years.

State Department officials have acknowledged that the congressional hearings could be contentious and possibly ugly, but many remain convinced the U.S. military and other officials did the best they could under extremely trying circumstances—including the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the crush of thousands of desperate people at Kabul's airport seeking to leave the country.

Blinken 9/11 Memorial
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has faced heavy criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Above, Blinken speaks during a 9/11 commemoration event at the State Department in Washington on September 10, 2021. Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP