Senators Demand Independent Probe Into Rob Malley Security Clearance Fiasco

Rob Malley (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
July 17, 2023

Senate Republicans are demanding that the State Department's inspector general launch an independent investigation into whether Biden administration officials tried to hide information about the recent revocation of Iran envoy Robert Malley's security clearance.

In a Monday letter sent to State Department acting inspector general Diana Shaw, a group of 17 senators, led by South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, demand the watchdog "conduct an independent investigation into whether State Department officials complied with all appropriate laws and regulations" when they removed Malley from his posting. The signatories say the State Department must clearly explain why Malley was only placed on unpaid leave after information about an FBI investigation into his actions spilled into the press.

"We were alarmed to learn that the U.S. Department of State has suspended Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley's clearance, is conducting an investigation into Malley's handling of classified information, and only recently placed Malley on leave without pay," the senators wrote.

The charges against Malley come as the Biden administration 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.

Malley quietly had his security clearance revoked sometime earlier this year, but that information was kept hidden from Congress until late last month, when Malley himself confirmed he was on extended leave. Congressional leaders in both chambers have now initiated investigations into the matter and suspect the Biden administration may have intentionally tried to hide the investigation into Malley's apparent mishandling of classified information.

For at least a month, the State Department would only say that Malley was on extended leave for personal reasons, but later changed his status once the investigation became public. Malley's official biography has now been scrubbed from the State Department's website, and his image removed from the Iran envoy's Twitter page, the Washington Free Beacon reported last week.

Scott and his colleagues want to know exactly when Malley was informed his security clearance had been revoked and when he turned in "all 'department-issued credentials that provide logical or physical access to classified systems or designated classified spaces.'" This information will help the senators determine if the investigation into Malley began earlier than publicly known.

The lawmakers also ask the State Department, "On what date did the State Department place Special Envoy Malley on leave without pay? Why did the State Department make the decision to do so on this date rather than on the date on which Malley's clearance was suspended?"

The House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), is running its own investigation into the Malley scandal. The State Department is stonewalling the probe, telling McCaul last week that it "is not in a position to provide further documents or information related to this personnel-security clearance matter."

The State Department also will not answer press questions about the situation, only telling the Free Beacon that Malley "remains on leave" and that "we have nothing further to share at this time due to privacy considerations."