UNITED STATES: A prominent Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives has reached out to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, seeking information regarding an inquiry into the security clearance of the U.S. envoy for Iran amidst reports that he may have mishandled classified documents.
Michael McCaul, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to Blinken on Friday, referring to media reports, to inquire about the reasons behind Rob Malley, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran, being placed on unpaid leave after his security clearance was suspended earlier this year due to allegations of improper handling of classified documents.
Previously, the committee had requested Malley’s presence as a witness in an oversight hearing regarding the State Department’s negotiations with Iran. However, the department conveyed that Malley would be unable to testify due to a close family member’s illness.
In a letter posted on the committee’s website, Representative McCaul emphasized the significance of the situation, stating, “Given the gravity of the situation, it is imperative that the Department expeditiously provide a full and transparent accounting of the circumstances surrounding Special Envoy Malley’s clearance suspension and investigation and the Department’s statements to Congress regarding Special Envoy Malley.”
On Thursday, Malley informed the media, “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.”
When asked about Representative McCaul’s letter, Malley reiterated his previous statement from Thursday, expressing, “I am eager to know what the State Department’s review is about and, as I have made clear from the outset, am prepared to cooperate fully with it.”
Malley was appointed shortly after Democratic President Joe Biden assumed office in 2021 and was tasked with attempting to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. President Donald Trump, who was in office at the time, withdrew from the agreement and reinstated American sanctions against Tehran.
Following unsuccessful efforts to revive the deal, the United States has engaged in discussions with Iran to alleviate tensions by outlining measures that could limit Iran’s nuclear program, secure the release of detained Americans, and unfreeze Iranian assets abroad, according to Iranian and Western officials earlier this month.
In his letter, Representative Michael McCaul requested the National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and Acting Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley to make themselves available to testify and provide classified briefings to the Committee by the end of July.