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Gen. Milley and Gen. Austin blame the State Dept. for botched withdrawal

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According to the senior Pentagon officials, the State Department is actually to blame for the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Gen. Austin Lloyd said as much to House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. It was their second day of hearings with the committee.

“We provide an input, as I said in my opening statement, to the State Department,” Austin said. But he admitted the Ghani administration warned that “if they withdrew American citizens and SIV applicants at a pace that was too fast, it would cause a collapse of the government that we were trying to prevent.” 

“We certainly would have liked to see it go faster or sooner,” Austin said. “But, again, they had a number of things to think through as well.” 

Then, Milley took credit for his effective withdrawal of the troops in July. “I just want to be clear – we’re talking about two different missions,” Milley said. “The retrograde of troops . . . that is complete by mid-July, and that was done, actually, without any significant incident. And that’s the handover of 11 bases, the bringing out of a lot of equipment . . . that was done under the command of Gen. Miller.” Gen. Austin Scott Miller was the top general in Afghanistan before he transferred his authorities to Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, of US Central Command.

“Noncombatant evacuation operation is different,” Milley said, referring all withdrawals in late July and August. “Noncombat operation – that was done under conditions of great volatility, great violence, great threat.” 

Ultimately, the U.S. military airlifted over 120,000 noncombatants between July and August. Their last airlift was on August 30th.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson Vows to Take Legal Action After DOJ Declines to Prosecute Merrick Garland

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House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed disappointment on Friday over the Justice Department’s (DOJ) decision not to prosecute Attorney General Merrick Garland after the House voted to hold him in contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. Johnson announced plans to take the subpoena to federal court and certify the contempt reports.

The DOJ stated that Garland’s refusal to comply with the subpoena, which instructed him to turn over an audio recording of President Joe Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur, did not “constitute a crime.” This decision follows the GOP-led House’s vote on Wednesday to hold Garland in contempt, passing the resolution with a 216–207 vote.

“The House disagrees with the assertions in the letter from the Department of Justice,” Johnson wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “As Speaker, I will be certifying the contempt reports to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. It is sadly predictable that the Biden Administration’s Justice Department will not prosecute Garland for defying congressional subpoenas even though the department aggressively prosecuted Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for the same thing.”

Johnson criticized the DOJ’s decision as “another example” of what he perceives as the Biden administration’s two-tiered system of justice. He emphasized that the House would pursue the enforcement of the subpoena against Garland in federal court. The contempt order was issued after President Biden invoked executive privilege over the tapes, though Congress has received a transcript of the interview.

In a statement following the House’s contempt vote, Garland blasted the decision, accusing House Republicans of weaponizing their power for partisan purposes. “Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland stated. “I will always stand up for this department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

The Justice Department’s refusal to prosecute Garland underscores ongoing tensions between the executive branch and the GOP-led House. The situation reflects broader disputes over congressional oversight, executive privilege, and the handling of classified information.

As Speaker Johnson moves forward with legal action, the outcome could set significant precedents for the balance of power between Congress and the executive branch. The decision to pursue enforcement of the subpoena in federal court will be closely watched, as it may influence future interactions between legislative investigators and executive officials.

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