Biden State Department Blocks Congressional Investigation into Scandal-Plagued Iran Envoy

Rob Malley reportedly had security clearance revoked for mishandling classified information

Robert Malley (Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images)
July 12, 2023

The Biden administration is stonewalling a congressional probe into Iran envoy Rob Malley following reports the senior diplomat had his security clearance revoked for mishandling classified information.

The State Department on Tuesday informed House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas) that it wont answer any questions about the matter or provide the committee with details about the allegations against Malley, who was placed on unpaid leave late last month while the FBI and other security agencies investigate his actions.

"The Department is not in a position to provide further documents or information related to this personnel-security clearance matter," the State Department informed McCaul, according to a copy of the correspondence obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The exact charges against Malley remain unclear, but the decision to revoke his security clearance has led lawmakers to suspect the top diplomat may have mishandled classified information during diplomatic talks with Iran. Malley has been working to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which would remove sanctions on Tehran and provide the hardline regime with billions in cash windfalls.

Malley has a history of going off the rails in his diplomatic efforts. In 2008, he was fired from the Obama campaign for conducting unauthorized talks with the Iranian-backed terror group Hamas.

McCaul and other lawmakers suspect the Biden administration tried to conceal Malley’s alleged mishandling of classified information. He has been on an extended leave of absence from the State Department for some time, but was formally placed on unpaid leave after news of the investigation into his behavior leaked to the press last month.

Instead of answering McCaul’s questions, the State Department referred him to the Foreign Affairs Manual, an internal employee handbook that summarizes how classified information should be treated.

The State Department’s refusal to answer basic questions and turn over information to Congress is "absolutely unacceptable," according to McCaul, who said that "nothing could be more serious" than the charges outlined against Malley.

"Congress deserves to know exactly why the U.S. Special Envoy to Iran had his security clearance suspended, was then suspended from his position, and now, according to news reports, is being investigated by the FBI," McCaul told the Free Beacon in a statement. "This is a person whose mission is to negotiate with the Islamic Republic of Iran—nothing could be more serious than this."

A senior congressional source familiar with the matter said the foreign affairs committee will send another letter to the State Department this week outlining specific questions that must be answered immediately.

The charges against Malley come at a sensitive time for the Biden administration, as it conducts secret diplomacy with Iran aimed at securing a new nuclear deal. The United States is reportedly prepared to give the cash-strapped Iranian regime access to billions of dollars in exchange for minimal restrictions on its nuclear program, which is closer than ever to developing an atomic weapon.

McCaul first pressed the State Department for answers in late June, after Malley publicly confirmed that his security clearance was revoked. The State Department has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter, saying only that Malley is on extended leave.

"The Department’s failure to inform Congress of this matter demonstrates at best a lack of candor, and at worst represents deliberate and potentially unlawful misinformation," McCaul wrote in his initial letter.

The committee chairman had instructed the State Department to turn over "any and all allegations, investigations, and/or findings of misconduct, including security violations, against Special Envoy Malley."