The US State Department’s failure to provide information on US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley’s suspension is “unacceptable,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday.
Malley was put on unpaid leave and lost his security clearance earlier this year, reportedly over his handling of classified information. The State Department turned over Malley’s investigation to the FBI, US news site Semafor reported last week, suggesting that there may be more to the probe than just mishandling documents.
McCaul asked the State Department earlier this month to provide more information about Malley’s suspension.
On Tuesday, hours before a deadline McCaul set in his letter, Naz Durakoglu, the State Department’s assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, said he could not provide documents or information about a “personnel-security clearance matter.”
He cited the State Department’s “thorough and comprehensive process for investigating, assessing, and confirming the initial and continued eligibility for access to classified information.”
McCaul says response is unaccetable
The State Department was looking into “identifying responsive information or records that may be appropriately provided to the committee given the sensitivity associated with that category of information, including privacy-related interests,” Durakoglu said.McCaul said the response was “absolutely unacceptable” because Malley is “a person whose mission is to negotiate with the Islamic Republic of Iran – nothing could be more serious than this.”“Congress deserves to know exactly why the US 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,” he said.McCaul said he would follow up on the matter.Malley’s deputy, Abram Paley, is serving as acting special envoy for Iran.
“Congress deserves to know exactly why the US 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.”Rep. Michael McCaul
Malley gave interviews about Iran as late as May 30, which was around the time much of his involvement in negotiations with Tehran stopped, other than talks about releasing prisoners.
Brett McGurk, the White House’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, was the leading figure in advancing a new, pared-down deal between the US and 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 to avoid congressional review.Malley resigned as an adviser to former US president Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, following revelations that he had met with members of Hamas. He later served in the Obama administration as one of the negotiators for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.