Pete Hegseth and the panel on “The Five” said Monday that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken came across both exceedingly dry, rhetorically speaking, and in a manner that failed to take responsibility for any aspect of the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan – which was often at least obliquely blamed on former President Donald Trump’s 2020 deal with Taliban leader Abdul Baradar.
“You can’t deny the fact that we are in a more dangerous and precarious situation [20 years after 9/11], and you can’t deny the fact that Tony Blinken spent the time testifying, he was effectively trying to defend the indefensible,” Hegseth said.
“There’s no way to defend what he said, what the administration said they would do, and square it with the actions that occurred in Kabul, from what he can oversee [like] abandoning the embassy, which he said he would never ever do. To claiming … that they were not blocking Americans from leaving in Afghanistan which those of us who were involved in that effort [know] was categorically false.”
Just before “The Five” came on air, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry had engaged Blinken in a testy exchange regarding the status of hundreds of Americans stranded in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The panel noted Perry was able to confirm from Blinken that there are additionally “thousands” of American Green Card holders stuck in the militant-controlled country, and unconfirmable numbers of SIV’s – special immigrant visa holders.
“Did State [Department] at any point the process block American citizens from leaving Afghanistan?” the Mechanicsburg lawmaker asked at one point, receiving a “no” from the secretary.
“None. Your testimony before Congress is that State didn’t block any American citizens leaving Afghanistan,” he reiterated, with Blinken commenting in response that “to the contrary, my officers ran into the buildings from around the world to help.”
When Blinken tried to give a long answer, Perry interjected, noting he was giving more clear and concise responses just moments earlier to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia.
“Yes or no,” Perry asked again.
On “The Five”, Hegseth said Blinken was wrong in his exchange with Perry:
“No, you blocked people [from leaving Afghanistan] at every single turn – and he could never answer the questions,” Hegseth said.
Host Dana Perino went on to note that many of the Democrats on the committee – which was chaired by Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York – placed the blame on the Trump administration.
Meeks himself asked at one point, asking rhetorically where the protests were when Trump forged that 2020 deal with the Taliban.
Rep. Brad Sherman of California asked Blinken what planning Trump’s team left to work with when they left the White House.
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“We inherited a deadline, but we did not inherit a plan,” Blinken responded.
“So, no plan at all,” the Sherman Oaks lawmaker smiled as he replied.