The Oklahoman

Mullin ‘heading home’ after rescue trip

Disappoint­ed Americans left in Afghanista­n

- Chris Casteel

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin posted a message on Instagram Wednesday saying he was heading home after “helping get Americans out of Afghanista­n.”

The message came after The Washington Post reported on Tuesday night that Mullin had been in the region and argued with U.S. State Department personnel over his plans to get into Afghanista­n.

The Post reported that Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican, asked U.S. Embassy staff in Tajikistan on Monday to help him bring in more cash than that country allows so he could then go to neighborin­g Afghanista­n to rescue five Americans. Mullin planned to use the cash to hire a helicopter, the paper said.

The Post, quoting unnamed sources, reported that the embassy refused and that Mullin then threatened them, though the actual threats were not reported. The Post said it was Mullin’s second attempt in the past two weeks to get into Afghanista­n.

In the Instagram post, Mullin said, “I am heading home. Have we been helping get Americans out of Afghanista­n. yes. Is the mission continuing, yes. Am I missing, no. Did I go dark for a little, yes because it wasn't safe to be communicat­ing. Am I extremely disappoint­ed in how we (United States) left Americans behind … that would be an understate­ment.

“President Biden and his administra­tion are absolutely lying to the American people about Americans and our friends being left behind.”

At a briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokespers­on Ned Price, asked about Mullin, declined to discuss specifics about the report.

Price said, “As you know, the State Department does not routinely comment on the travel plans of private American citizens, or members of Congress for that matter. But we have made it abundantly clear that travel to Afghanista­n is not safe and it is something that we certainly do not recommend.

“We have a Level Four travel advisory issued for Afghanista­n. We have issued a series of increasing­ly urgent warnings to the American people — and, by extension, the broader public — over the course of months and, in fact, over the course of 20 years regarding the potential dangers of travel to Afghanista­n.

“When it comes to our missions abroad, every single embassy of ours — and this includes our embassy in Dushanbe — has a foremost responsibi­lity to look after the welfare of American citizens. And our team has been intensely focused on assisting Americans who may have been exiting Afghanista­n into Tajikistan in recent weeks.”

The State Department's Level Four advisory is that people not travel to countries with that designatio­n.

The United States on Monday completed the withdrawal of troops, a decision Biden defended in a speech to the nation on Tuesday. The administra­tion has said that up to 200 Americans remain in the country, and the president said they would be evacuated if they wanted to be.

It was not clear Wednesday whether Mullin got into Afghanista­n this week. His office released a statement late Tuesday that gave no details on his trip or whereabout­s but said he “has been and is currently completely safe.”

Mullin, 44, has been in the House since 2013. He represents the 2nd District of Oklahoma, which includes all or part of 24 counties in eastern Oklahoma.

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