EXCLUSIVE – Republican Sen. Josh Hawley will force a vote on President Biden‘s State Department nominees Thursday, blaming Biden for the planning and execution of the “disastrous” withdrawal of U.S. military assets from Afghanistan, while warning that his failure to accept responsibility is “dangerous,” and demanding that his top national security and defense officials resign.
The Senate, this week, is voting on a number of State Department nominees, after Hawley, R-Mo., last week announced he placed a “hold” on them, forcing a vote on the Senate floor on nominees that otherwise would have easily been confirmed.
“There’s gotta be accountability for what has happened in Afghanistan. It was a total debacle,” Hawley said. “It is Joe Biden’s fault. He planned it. He executed it. It was a disaster.”
Hawley slammed the president, saying his “conduct” has been a “disgrace.”
“It is not acceptable to abandon hundreds of American civilians to the enemy. It is not acceptable to see 13 American soldiers die and say it was an ‘extraordinary success’ – those are Joe Biden’s words,” Hawley told Fox News. “That is ridiculous. It is outrageous. It is offensive, and it is also not acceptable to say this is somebody else’s problem, but not ours.”
Hawley, slamming the Biden administration for failing to “take any responsibility” for the botched withdrawal, went on to demand that Biden’s top national security officials resign.
“[Defense Secretary] Lloyd Austin ought to resign. [Secretary of State] Tony Blinken ought to resign. Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, he ought to resign, at a minimum,” Hawley said. “And so far, to my knowledge, Biden has fired nobody. He has not even admitted he has done anything wrong.”
“I think he doesn’t want to admit that there was any failure at all,” Hawley continued. “This is the guy who still says this was a ‘great success,’ and if it was such a success, why would you fire anybody? He is totally, totally out of touch with reality and it is dangerous.”
The Biden administration executed a full withdrawal of all U.S. military assets from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, after having a presence in the region for 20 years following the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The withdrawal of U.S. forces came after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
The Biden administration said its mission in the country shifted from a military mission, to a diplomatic one, with the State Department now working to evacuate the known remaining American citizens in Afghanistan, as well as Afghan allies. The Biden Administration said it successfully evacuated 124,000 individuals from Kabul – 6,000 of which were American citizens.
“There are hundreds of American civilians left behind enemy lines, and they are still there,” Hawley said. “There are still Americans trapped there, left to ISIS, left to the Taliban. It is a disgrace.”
Hawley added: “If Chuck Schumer tries to jam through Biden nominees in the State Department or the Department of Defense, I am going to make the Senate vote, I am going to go to the floor and I am going to talk about Afghanistan, I am going to talk about their failures, and I am going to push to hold them accountable.”
Schumer, D-N.Y., late Tuesday, filed cloture on seven Biden nominations that, he said, have been “tied up by Republican obstructionists,” saying he intends to “make sure” these “not controversial nominees” are confirmed. Schumer said these individuals had bipartisan support and “would normally be confirmed by this chamber without much fuss.”
The nominees in question are Sarah Bianchi for Deputy United States Trade Representative; Daniel Kritenbrink for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Karen Donfield for Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; Monica Medina for Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Science Affairs; Mary Catherine Phee for Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Todd Robinson for Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; and Jessica Lewis for Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
“They want to drag out what should be an easy process, wasting the chamber’s time and energy and hindering the government’s ability to protect American interests, deliberately making the American people less safe,” Schumer said of Republicans, like Hawley, on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Hawley, though, fired back at Schumer.
“Schumer, on the floor of the Senate, said that it was a waste of the chamber’s time and energy to have to talk about Afghanistan or to have to answer questions,” Hawley said. “I don’t know who he thinks he works for, but what he ought to remember is he works for the American people, and I have to answer to the people of Missouri.”
“They deserve to know what happened here,” Hawley continued. “And how and why Joe Biden failed.”
He added: “And that’s not a waste of the Senate’s time. That is the Senate’s job. And Democrat’s don’t want to do their job. They want to whitewash this. People died and there has to be accountability.”
Meanwhile, Hawley told Fox News that there needs to be a “thorough investigation” into the Afghanistan withdrawal “done in public view.”
“The public needs to be able to see people being questioned, they need to see members of Congress drilling down on the generals but especially on the political leadership—and saying why did you fail so badly in Afghanistan? Why did you leave civilians behind? Why did you put our soldiers in harms way unnecessarily?”
He added: “There needs to be a thorough investigation and there need to be resignations. The fact that Joe Biden hasn’t fired any of the people in charge of this mission is just astounding.”