Two Congress members make unauthorized trip to Kabul amid evacuation efforts

Rep. Seth Moulton defends mystery trip to Afghanistan

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Salem, is catching heat for a surprise visit to Afghanistan he and a colleague made to evaluate the evacuation.

Moulton and U.S. Rep. Peter Miejer, a Republican from Michigan, arrived unannounced to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Tuesday. According to reports, they had flown to the United Arab Emirates via commercial flight and then got on a military flight to Kabul without telling congressional leadership or the State Department.

“I visited Kabul airport to conduct oversight on the evacuation,” Moulton Tweeted on Tuesday night, along with a photo of U.S. troops helping a crowd of Afghan refugees. “Witnessing our young Marines and soldiers at the gates, navigating a confluence of humanity as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen, was indescribable.”

The cloak-and-dagger trip infuriated some officials at the Pentagon and the State Department, where diplomats, military officers and civil servants are working around-the-clock shifts in Washington and at the Kabul airport to evacuate thousands of people from the country every day.

“It’s as moronic as it is selfish,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide a frank assessment of their trip. “They’re taking seats away from Americans and at-risk Afghans — while putting our diplomats and service members at greater risk — so they can have a moment in front of the cameras.”

In a joint statement from Moulton and Meijer emailed to The Washington Post by Moulton spokesman Tim Biba, the two pushed back on the notion that their trip caused a distraction.

“This is deadly serious,” she told reporters. “We do not want members to go.”

Pelosi said she does not believe the trip was a “good idea.”

In a series of tweets, Moulton said he was deeply moved by the dedication of U.S. service members stationed at the Kabul airport. 

“The world has truly never seen anything like what America is doing in Kabul this week — deeply tragic and highly heroic. Fear and desperation at their worst; hope and humanity at their finest,” he said. “Washington should be ashamed of the position we put our service members in, but they represent the best in America. These men and women have been run ragged and are still running strong. Their empathy and dedication to duty are truly inspiring.”

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