Finally, a possible explanation for why Biden’s Iran envoy, Robert Malley, was suspended

Finally, a possible explanation for why Biden’s Iran envoy, Robert Malley, was suspended

Josh Rogin writes:

Considering Iran’s collaboration with U.S. adversaries in the Middle East crisis and the Ukraine war, not to mention the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions, the Biden administration would surely like to have its top diplomat for Iran on the playing field. But the State Department’s special envoy, Robert Malley, has been sidelined while under federal investigation for going on one year — without any official explanation. Now, new information about the case is coming to light.

Malley, who was appointed to his role by President Biden in 2021 and was intimately involved in back-channel talks with Iran, was placed on leave and had his security clearance suspended in April 2023. On Monday, the top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees sent a letter, a copy of which I obtained, to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, decrying the lack of information about the official investigation and laying out the results of their own inquiry.

“Due to the Department’s evasiveness and lack of transparency, we have worked to glean information from other sources,” Sen. James E. Risch (Idaho) and Rep. Mike McCaul (Tex.) wrote in the letter. “Our own investigations have uncovered the following information and troubling allegations. We ask that you confirm the information we have learned.”

Risch and McCaul are asking the State Department to confirm that Malley’s security clearance was suspended by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service because he “allegedly transferred classified documents to his personal email account and downloaded these documents to his personal cell phone.” Through leaks in the Tehran Times, an Iranian state-controlled media outlet, it had already been reported that Malley was under federal investigation for potentially mishandling classified documents, but Risch and McCaul are claiming to have discovered more details.

In the letter, the Republican lawmakers also ask the State Department to confirm their belief that “a hostile cyber actor was able to gain access to his email and/or phone and obtain the downloaded information.” In August, the Tehran Times also published multiple articles it claims were based on leaked secret U.S. government documents, including one about Biden’s internal diplomatic strategy. The State Department inspector general’s office is investigating those leaks. Risch and McCaul contend they are connected to a hack of one of Malley’s personal devices. [Continue reading…]

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