The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday launched a formal investigation into U.S.-Iran Envoy Robert Malley following reports that the senior Biden administration official had his security clearance revoked for mishandling classified information.
"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," Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), the committee’s chairman, wrote in a letter to the State Department, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
McCaul and other Republican leaders suspect the Biden administration attempted to hide information about Malley’s alleged mishandling of classified information. Malley has been on an extended leave of absence from the State Department, but it remains unclear if this is due to his current inability to access classified information. After news of his security clearance issue became public on Thursday, the State Department officially put Malley on unpaid leave.
The revelations come as the Biden administration engages in secret diplomacy with Iran. The White House is working to secure a revamped nuclear deal that would provide the hardline regime with billions-of-dollars in sanctions relief. Malley appears to have been sidelined from the talks, which are reportedly being held in Oman.
Malley confirmed late Thursday he was "informed that my security clearance is under review," but would not provide additional information. The State Department, in comments to the Free Beacon, would only say that Malley is on a leave of absence, and declined to provide any details about the status of his security clearance and position in the administration.
The situation, McCaul informed the State Department, raises "serious concerns both regarding Malley’s conduct and whether the State Department misled Congress and the American public."
"While the suspension of Special Envoy Malley’s clearance is independently troubling, our concern is compounded by the State Department’s failure to respond to the Committee’s efforts to conduct oversight of its negotiations with and policy toward Iran," McCaul wrote.
The committee chairman is requesting that the State Department immediately turn over all internal information about the charges levied against Malley and brief members about "any and all allegations, investigations, and/or findings of misconduct, including security violations, against Special Envoy Malley."
Lawmakers first discovered Malley was on leave in mid-May, when he failed to appear for a classified briefing. At that time, lawmakers were only told that Malley was "on extended personal leave," according to several sources familiar with the matter.
By June, however, congressional staffers and reporters began questioning the State Department about Malley’s status, leading him to publicly confirm on Thursday afternoon that his security clearance was revoked.
In addition to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have also begun probing the allegations.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), a Foreign Affairs Committee member, told the Free Beacon that the Biden administration must immediately "come clean exactly how long he was compromised and how long they hid this from Congress."
"Rob Malley represents the worst of Biden’s foreign policy failures," Issa said. "He counseled concessions to Iran, weakness to the Mullahs, and put America’s interest last."
A senior congressional source familiar with the matter further confirmed to the Free Beacon that several oversight committees have already expressed an interest in probing Malley and the Biden administration’s conduct.
Gabriel Noronha, a senior Iran adviser at the State Department during the Trump administration, expressed concern about the Biden administration’s "shifting and non-sensical explanations for Envoy Malley’s leave of absence that simply don’t add up."
"Until Thursday," Noronha said, "State was telling Congress that Malley was on family leave. Only when the press exposed the investigation into security clearance did they suspend Malley without pay—even though he appears to have been under investigation for months now."