A congressman embarks on a secret mission to rescue five American citizens, demanding a huge sum of cash from an ambassador — immediately! — to make it all work.
Truth, as people who follow politics closely, is always stranger than fiction.
Which brings us to the curious case
of Oklahoma Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin and his suspended attempt to enter Afghanistan with a big sack of money that he hoped would be arranged for him by the US ambassador to Tajikistan.
“Mullin told the embassy that he planned to fly from Tblisi, Georgia, into Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, in the next few hours and needed the top diplomat’s help, according to the two U.S. officials familiar with the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations about a sensitive matter.
“The answer was no. Embassy officials told Mullin they could not assist him in skirting Tajikistan’s laws on cash limits on his way to visiting one of the most dangerous places on earth.
“Mullin was outraged by the response, the officials said — threatening U.S. ambassador John Mark Pommersheim and embassy staff and demanding to know the name of staff members he was speaking with.”
Even more remarkable? That this wasn’t, according to the Post, the first time that Mullin had attempted to pull this stunt. “Last week, Mullin traveled to Greece and asked the Department of Defense for permission to visit Kabul,” the Post wrote. “The Pentagon denied Mullin’s request, an administration official said.”
And this detail! “As of late Tuesday, U.S. officials said they were unsure of Mullin’s location. Mullin’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment before this story published.”
Mullin’s repeated attempts to go rogue come less than a week after Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Peter Meijer of Michigan went on an unauthorized trip to Afghanistan even as the military was evacuating thousands of Americans prior to Tuesday’s deadline for US troops to be out of the country. That trip brought swift and stern rebukes from the White House as well as leaders in Congress.
“We don’t want anyone to think this was a good idea,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the Moulton-Meijer jaunt
. “There’s a real concern about members being in the region.”
Meredith Blanford, a spokeswoman for Mullin, said in a statement that Mullin “has been and is currently completely safe.”
She added: “He and the Office of Oklahoma’s Second District will continue to do anything in our power to bring home all Americans from the war zone that President Biden abandoned. The safety and security of the American people will always be his top priority. We have no further comment at this time.”
For Mullin, his attempts to enter Afghanistan are, by far, the most high-profile thing he has done since coming to Congress in 2013 although he has occasionally made news — for the wrong reasons — before.
He was one of 139 House Republicans
to vote against certifying the 2020 Electoral College results, alleging, wrongly, that “there was a widespread fraud here.”
And in 2018, Mullin was forced by the House Ethics Committee to pay $ 40,000 back
to his family business after it was determined that an accounting error had left him to inadvertently be in breach of House ethics rules.
It’s not immediately clear whether Mullin will face any penalty from the House for his repeated attempts to get into Afghanistan amid the withdrawal. The House leaders will need to find him first, I suppose.