By Valerie Volcovici and Arshad Mohammed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A powerful Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives has asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken for details of an investigation into the security clearance of the U.S. envoy for Iran, amid reports that he mishandled classified documents.
Citing news reports, Michael McCaul, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to Blinken on Friday, asking why the State Department’s special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, had been placed on unpaid leave after the suspension of his security clearance earlier this year to investigate the alleged mishandling of classified documents.
The committee previously asked Malley to testify at a monitoring hearing on the State Department’s negotiations with Iran, but said the department responded that Malley could not testify due to illness. a close family member.
“Given the gravity of the situation, it is imperative that the Department promptly provide a full and transparent account of the circumstances surrounding the suspension and investigation of Special Envoy Malley and the Department’s statements to Congress regarding the Envoy. special Malley,” McCaul wrote to Blinken in a letter. posted on the committee’s website.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
On Thursday, Malley told Reuters: “I have been advised that my security clearance is under review. I have not received any further information, but I expect the investigation to be resolved favorably and expeditiously. In the meantime, I’m on leave.”
Asked to comment on McCaul’s letter, Malley said Saturday he stood by Thursday’s statement, adding, “I’m eager to hear what the State Department review is and, as I made it clear from the outset that I am ready to fully cooperate with him.”
Appointed shortly after Democratic President Joe Biden took office in 2021, Malley was tasked with trying to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Then-President Donald Trump abandoned the pact in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions against Tehran.
Having failed to revive the deal, the US has held talks with Iran to try to ease tensions by outlining measures that could limit Iran’s nuclear program, release some detained US citizens and unfreeze some Iranian assets abroad, Iranian and Western officials said earlier. this month.
In the letter, McCaul requested that acting special envoy for Iran Abram Paley and National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk be made available to testify and provide information. confidential information to the Committee by the end of July.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minnesota; Editing by William Mallard)