State Dept Under Pressure To Turn Over Docs Related to Robert Malley Investigation

Suspended Iran envoy allegedly mishandled classified info

Robert Malley (Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images)
October 13, 2023

The State Department is under pressure to provide Congress with information on its investigation into U.S. Iran envoy Robert Malley, who was suspended from his post earlier this year amid an FBI investigation into allegations he mishandled classified information.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) instructed the State Department on Thursday to provide his office with an "update on the investigation into Malley and a copy of the final report of investigation upon completion of this matter," according to a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Biden administration is stonewalling several probes into the circumstances surrounding Malley’s suspension and concerns the senior diplomat was compromised by an Iranian government influence network that allegedly includes several of his closest associates, the Free Beacon reported on Wednesday.

Grassley’s letter marks the first attempt by a senator to obtain documents related to the State Department internal investigation into Malley’s alleged mishandling of classified information, a security probe that is being conducted with no congressional oversight. Grassley has made similar requests in the past, including in 2019 when he compelled the State Department to turn over its probe into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized email server.

Grassley is leaning on the State Department to furnish its own internal findings, which could shine light on the circumstances that led to Malley’s security clearance being yanked.

"It is critical that a full and thorough review be conducted regarding allegations of Malley’s mishandling of classified information and that the Congress be given information with respect to the basis of the investigation and its results," Grassley wrote. "In order to inform Congress as it conducts oversight on this matter, I request an update on the investigation into Malley and a copy of the final report of investigation upon completion of this matter."

The State Department declined to comment on Grassley’s request, with a spokesman telling the Free Beacon that Malley "remains on leave."

"We have no further comment due to privacy considerations," the spokesman said. "The Department does not comment on individual security clearances," and will not discuss congressional correspondence.

The State Department’s decision to withhold information about Malley—both in public and to Congress—"is unacceptable," according to Grassley, who is one of several Republicans to express frustration with the Biden administration’s handling of the probe.

"The State Department has yet to provide a public update on the status of Robert Malley’s employment or the investigation of his security clearance," the senator wrote.

"It is also problematic that, in the absence of information, there is reporting that ‘the information vacuum has been filled in part by speculative stories in … Iranian media outlets,’" Grassley noted, referring to a series of leaks about the investigation in Iranian state-controlled media, including internal State Department documents purportedly outlining the reasons for Malley’s suspension.

The investigation into Malley has taken on renewed significance in the weeks since Semafor reported on a vast Iranian-government propaganda network that took orders from Tehran and sought to influence American policy towards Iran.

At least three close Malley associates were alleged to be part of the network, including Ariane Tabatabai, a senior Pentagon official who worked with Malley at the State Department. Tabatabai’s alleged membership in the influence network has drawn calls for her security clearance to be revoked pending an investigation.