Rep. Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, chastised Blinken as he testified via video call from the State Department building on Monday, blocks from where the physical hearing took place on Capitol Hill in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"Mr. Blinken , assuming it isn’t classified, can you tell us where you are today?" Perry said.
"Yes, I'm at the State Department," Blinken answered.
"Oh, couldn't be bothered to come down here and see Congress? All right, that's great," Perry spewed.
Blinken began explaining it was his understanding the House was "not in session."
"I’m right here, Mr. Secretary, so is the chairman and ranking member," Perry interrupted. "We’re here!"
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, explained the event was a "hybrid hearing," thus, attendees and members were given the option to attend virtually.
He insisted the secretary "has done no wrong" in response to a follow-up inquiry by Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, who asked if Blinken was given the option to appear virtually.
“We planned and exercised a wide range of contingencies. Because of that planning, we were able to draw down our embassy and move our remaining personnel to the airport within 48 hours," Blinken said. "And the military — placed on standby by the president was able to secure the airport and start the evacuation within 72 hours."
This was the first of two scheduled testimonies this week from Blinken, who has been forced in recent weeks to defend the government's grave mishandling of the military withdrawal. Hundreds of U.S. citizens were reportedly left behind after President Joe Biden pressed the military to pull out of the country by his Aug. 31 deadline. Blinken has overseen continued efforts to rescue and return those still seeking to escape the newly instituted Taliban regime.
"As part of our ongoing commitment, today we facilitated the departure from Afghanistan of 21 U.S. citizens and 11 Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)," Blinken wrote on Saturday in an address. "We continue to make good on our pledge to U.S. citizens, LPRs, and Afghans to whom we have a special commitment. We will be relentless in helping them depart Afghanistan if they choose to do so."
But despite promises from the Taliban that those who wish to leave the country would be allowed to do so unimpeded, Blinken reported that U.S. efforts to extract U.S. citizens and allies have been repeatedly blocked by Taliban forces .
“As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart,” Blinken said Wednesday from Ramstein Air Base. “We’ve made clear to all parties, we made clear to the Taliban, that these charters need to be able to depart, and we continue every day, virtually every hour, to work on that.”