US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley’s suspension over his handling of classified documents raised concerns that the Biden administration was misleading the public and lied to Congress, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) said on Friday.
Malley told media last week: “I have been informed that my security clearance is under review. I have not been provided any further information, but I expect the investigation to be resolved favorably and soon. In the meantime, I am on leave.”
The envoy’s suspension without pay came amid a State Department diplomatic security probe into the alleged mishandling of classified documents, according to US media reports.
McCaul said, “these reports raise serious concerns both regarding Malley’s conduct and whether the State Department misled Congress and the American public.”
The House Foreign Affairs Committee repeatedly requested Malley’s testimony since April 11, 2023, to no avail.
'State Department officials informed the Committee that Malley was unable to testify'
Rather than inform McCaul of the reason Malley was unavailable, “Senior State Department officials informed the Committee that Special Envoy Malley was unable to testify or brief because of a close family member, for which my staff expressed sympathy,” McCaul wrote.
“At no point did the Department indicate that Special Envoy Malley’s security clearance was suspended or under review, or that he was being investigated for potential misconduct...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.”
Malley gave interviews about Iran as late as May 30, which was around the time much of his involvement stopped, a diplomatic source said.
The source pointed out that White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk was the leading figure in advancing a new, pared-down deal with Iran in which Tehran would put its uranium enrichment on hold, but not roll it back, in exchange for the US lifting sanctions.
The deal was not meant to be put in writing, in order to avoid congressional review.
McCaul said the proximity of these events “underscor[es] the importance of Congressional oversight on Iran negotiations and policy, and for transparency and accountability on the part of the [State] Department and the rest of the Biden administration.”
Malley’s deputy, Abram Paley, is serving as acting special envoy for Iran.
Malley resigned as an adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, following revelations that he had met with members of Hamas, but later served in the Obama administration as one of the negotiators for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.