Congressmen Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer traveled to Kabul amid hectic evacuation efforts

Reps Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, said in a joint statement Tuesday that they had traveled to Kabul “to oversee the mission to evacuate Americans and our allies” and that the trip was carried out in secret, “in order to minimize the risk and disruption for the local people”.

“As members of Congress, we have a duty to oversee the executive branch,” said Moulton and Meijer, both military veterans who served in the Middle East. The couple said they traveled to Afghanistan on an airplane with empty seats, seats for the crew only, to ensure that no one who needed a seat would lose one due to our presence.

But the trip, supposedly a typical Congressional fact-finding mission, blinded the leadership of the House of Representatives and the House Armed Services Committee, according to a senior Democratic leadership adviser, as well as the White House, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The Associated Press first reported on the trip.

A US official described the visit as an “unhelpful distraction” and told CNN on Tuesday that the Department of Defense was also not given advance notice that Congressmen would be flying to Afghanistan.

The visit came as US officials were working to increase the pace of evacuation flights, and the unannounced arrival of US politicians in the middle of a war zone would have drained scarce resources and manpower from the evacuation mission – especially given an ongoing terror threat from ISIS-K and others Groups that want to target American and coalition forces.

In a letter sent to members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday while Congressmen were in Afghanistan, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi advised lawmakers – without explicitly referring to the trip – according to a source familiar with the schedule refrained from visiting the country, arguing that such trips “would unnecessarily divert needed resources from evacuation efforts”.

“I am writing to reiterate that the Defense and State departments have requested that members not travel to Afghanistan and the region during this time of danger,” the California Democrat wrote. “Ensuring the safe and timely evacuation of people at risk requires the full focus and attention of the US military and diplomatic teams in Afghanistan.”

California Democratic MP Sara Jacobs, a member of the Armed Services Committee, also criticized her colleagues’ decision to travel abroad, saying in a tweet: “Whether Haiti or Afghanistan, taking space in a disaster area for your ego” doesn’t help anyone . “

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