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Senate Republicans push for answers on Malley investigation

Eighteen are urging the State Department’s inspector general to open an investigation into Iran Envoy Rob Malley’s security clearance and suspension

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Robert Malley, Biden administration special envoy for Iran, waits to testify about the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations on Capitol Hill May 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Eighteen Senate Republicans urged the State Department’s inspector general to open an investigation into the suspension of Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley’s security clearance, as well as provide updates to Congress on the situation.

The accusations against Malley, who is reportedly under investigation and on unpaid leave for allegedly mishandling classified information, have inflamed congressional Republicans, some of whom have accused the State Department of misleading Congress on Malley’s status.

“Given the role and responsibilities of the Special Envoy for Iran and the position’s importance to securing U.S. national security interests, we were alarmed to learn that the U.S. Department of State has suspended Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley’s clearance, is conducting an investigation into Malley’s handling of classified information, and only recently placed Malley on leave without pay,” the senators wrote.

The legislators asked that the inspector general probe the situation around Malley’s suspension and provide answers to Congress by the end of next week. They requested that the investigation include details of Malley’s suspension, what restrictions were placed on his access before he was placed on unpaid leave, when and how other members of Malley’s staff were informed and what duties Malley continued while his security clearance was suspended and before he was placed on unpaid leave.

They also questioned the status of Deputy Special Envoy Abraham Paley, who has been described in some public statements as serving in the role of acting special envoy.

The letter was led by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and co-signed by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tim Scott (R-SC), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), James Lankford (R-OK), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Ted Budd (R-NC), Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

A previous congressional request for information on Malley’s situation, from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), was rebuffed by the State Department, which said it could not offer information on Malley’s security clearance and deferred questions about Malley’s leave status. 

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