GOP lawmaker says he did not threaten US Embassy staff in Tajikistan
Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) on Tuesday denied reports that he threatened U.S. Embassy staff in Tajikistan when asking for assistance with transporting a large amount of cash into the country as part of an effort to enter Afghanistan.
The Washington Post reported last week that Mullin had threatened embassy staffers and U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan John Mark Pommersheim during a phone call on Aug. 30 in which the congressman requested help bypassing Tajikistan’s laws on cash limits.
He told staffers he wanted to hire a helicopter to enter Afghanistan so he could rescue a family of five Americans.
Staffers told the Post that Mullin became furious when his request was denied and threatened them and Pommersheim. The newspaper did not describe how the individuals were threatened.
When asked about the report on Tuesday, Mullin denied threatening Pommersheim or any staffers.
“Well, first of all the ambassador and I in Tajikistan get along. And it was his group that really tried to help us as much as they could. It wasn’t, that’s a misnarrative, him and I actually spoke about this yesterday and he actually apologized about it,” Mullin said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.”
“His guys are the ones that were actually there trying to volunteer their time and help towards the end of this, not going up to it,” he added.
GOP Rep. Markwayne Mullin disputes the State Department claiming credit for the rescue of a woman and her family from Afghanistan and says he did not threaten US embassy staff in Tajikistan. https://t.co/wLeaLEfVo9 pic.twitter.com/Du1czPesgC
— New Day (@NewDay) September 7, 2021
He said he needed the large sum of cash to get through more than 20 checkpoints, which charge between $500 and $4,000 per person, adding that they only take cash and not credit cards.
Mullin also denounced the State Department for taking credit for the rescue of a woman and her family from Afghanistan, contending that it was the work of an organization called the Sentinel Foundation.
The congressman’s attempt to enter Afghanistan through Tajikistan was the second time he tried to travel into the country, according to the Post. He reportedly traveled to Greece last month and asked the Defense Department for authorization to enter Kabul, but was ultimately denied.
His second bid to enter Afghanistan came roughly one week after Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), both military veterans, traveled to the country to conduct “oversight” of the Biden administration’s evacuation of American citizens and Afghan allies.
The trip was the target of criticism from White House officials and congressional leaders, who lambasted it as a dangerous venture and an incident that took resources away from the United States’ response in the region.
The final U.S. troops left Afghanistan last week, bringing an end to America’s longest war after 20 years of military involvement.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said the U.S. believes “somewhere around 100” American citizens seeking evacuation remain in Afghanistan.