WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is demanding that the State Department produce more information on the suspension of the U.S. special envoy for Iran’s security clearance.
Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said Friday that the Biden administration owed Congress a full explanation for suspending envoy Rob Malley’s clearance and placing him on unpaid leave.
Malley had led the administration’s efforts to revive the faltering nuclear deal with Iran. But he was not active in his main job for weeks and until Thursday the State Department had told reporters and lawmakers that he was on extended personal leave for unspecified family reasons.
On Thursday, however, department officials said Malley was being investigated for the mishandling of classified information and was placed on unpaid leave.
“These reports raise serious concerns both about Malley’s conduct and whether the State Department misled Congress and the American public,” McCaul said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“While the suspension of Special Envoy Malley’s clearance is independently troubling, our concern is compounded by the State Department’s failure to respond to the committee’s efforts to monitor its negotiations with Iran and its policy to against Iran,” he said.
McCaul also noted that the initial explanation for Malley’s absence and inability to appear for congressional hearings on Iran policy turned out to be incorrect.
“Senior State Department officials informed the committee that Special Envoy Malley was unable to testify or brief because he was on personal leave due to the illness of a close member of family, for which my staff expressed sympathy,” McCaul said.
“At no time did the department indicate that Special Envoy Malley’s security clearance was suspended or under review, or that he was under investigation for potential misconduct,” a- he added.
The State Department had no immediate comment on McCaul’s letter.
Malley said in a brief statement provided to several news outlets on Thursday that he had been informed that his security clearance was being reviewed.
“I have not received any further information, but I expect the investigation to be resolved favorably and quickly. In the meantime, I am on leave,” he said in the statement.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Thursday that Malley officially remains in his post but is on leave and his deputy, Abram Paley, currently leads the Iran portfolio as acting special envoy.
Malley’s fate has raised questions since he skipped a classified congressional briefing on Iran on May 16.