The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

117th Congress: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.)

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) joins Washington Post Live on Tuesday, August 17 (Video: The Washington Post)

After two decades of U.S. military involvement and the swift collapse of the central government, the Taliban has retaken control of Afghanistan. The Biden administration continues to defend its decision to withdraw from the country though the pace of the Taliban’s advances has stunned many American and foreign officials. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s ranking Republican, joins congressional reporter Marianna Sotomayor to discuss the United States’ strategy in Afghanistan, the future of the country, what the Taliban’s victory means for the fight against terrorism, as well as new questions about the origins of the coronavirus.

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The Congressman from Texas said the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan lay on the president alone. “He said the buck stops here… But then he started to blame everybody else… Blaming the Afghan military, blaming the intelligence community, blaming the prior administration. This was his decision, he owns it.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
The Congressman said Afghan women and girls “won’t have any rights” under the Taliban’s form of sharia law. “The nightmare is unfolding before our very eyes. The best we can do is get as many people out of there right now, out of that airport as we possibly can. Then we will evacuate from the airport, the Taliban will own and rule the country… The population I fear for the most are the women and the girls... They will be under dark, dark shadow of Sharia law. They won’t have any rights, they treat women like property. They will not have the right to be educated, they will not serve in public office, they will have to have the full burka covering, they will be essentially enslaved by the Taliban.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
McCaul warned China could pursue the mining of rare earth metals in Afghanistan, the profits of which the Taliban could use to finance terrorism. “China has already recognized the legitimacy of the Taliban, as have Russia… Now you’re going to have China going in mining these rare earth minerals, and they’re the winner… And the Taliban will have a huge windfall profit from this that they’ll put into terrorist financing.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
The congressman from Texas said being vaccinated–like Governor Abbott– lessens the severity of breakthrough infections. “The more vaccinated our population is, the safer. Now, the governor was vaccinated and he came down with the variant, but we do know that if you’ve been vaccinated that severity is far less than it would be if you were not vaccinated.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
McCaul said he’s always been skeptical of U.S. negotiations with the Taliban. “I don’t think you can ever trust the Taliban, I think they’ve demonstrated that. I was always skeptical of these negotiations with the Taliban. Obviously they were fruitless and now they’ve taken over the country which is very disturbing.” (Video: Washington Post Live)

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.)

Rep. Michael McCaul represents the 10th Congressional District of Texas and currently serves as the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the China Task Force. Previously, McCaul served as the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee from 2013 to 2019. Prior to Congress, McCaul served as Chief of Counter Terrorism and National Security in the U.S. Attorney’s office, Western District of Texas, and led the Joint Terrorism Task Force charged with detecting, deterring, and preventing terrorist activity. He also served as Texas Deputy Attorney General under current U.S. Senator John Cornyn, and served as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section in Washington, DC. Congressman McCaul is married to his wife, Linda. They are proud parents of five children: Caroline, Jewell, and the triplets Lauren, Michael, and Avery.