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House Republicans send Biden document preservation request, vowing to probe Afghan exit

The lawmakers said "nation has no higher priority at this moment" than rescuing stranded Americans.

Updated: August 25, 2021 - 10:22pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Key House Republicans are signaling plans for extensive oversight investigations into the bungled Afghanistan withdrawal, sending a demand that President Joe Biden preserve all government records relating to the administration's exit strategy.

Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) wrote Wednesday that the "horrifying scenes on the ground and the resulting erosion of America's worldwide geostrategic position raise troubling questions about your administration's ability to competently manage a major foreign crisis."

You can read the letter here:

The three lawmakers are the top Republicans on the key oversight committees for the Afghanistan War: Nunes on Intelligence, McCaul on Foreign Relations and Rogers on Armed Services. 

They promised vigorous investigations after all Americans are evacuated and directly challenged claims made by the White House about the evacuations of Americans.

"As elected officials, our primary duty is to protect the American people," they wrote. "Thus, we were shocked to hear White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declare that no Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. We implore you to acknowledge that, in fact, thousands of Americans remain stranded in Afghanistan, and to do all in your power to locate and evacuate these U.S. citizens. Our nation has no higher priority at this moment in history.

"Once that effort is complete and our people are safely returned to their families, House Republicans plan to vigorously investigate your administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan," they added. "That investigation will comprise a joint, comprehensive review by our three Committees of the intelligence, diplomatic, and military factors that led to the current fiasco."

"We request that your administration — including the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as the broader Intelligence Community —take immediate steps to preserve all records related to your Administration's withdrawal of U.S. personnel, including diplomatic staff, intelligence personnel, and military forces, as well as those of our allies, from Afghanistan."

The written preservation request came on a dramatic day in Washington during which the administration acknowledged there were at least 1,500 Americans still waiting to be evacuated with only days left before the Aug. 31 deadline set by Biden and that none have been rescued outside of Kabul. 

And late Wednesday the U.S embassy asked Americans to avoid the lone evacuation zone — the Kabul airport — because of security concerns.