Top Republican demands transparency on Iran envoy suspension as Biden admin keeps details under wraps

Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee has demanded to know why Robert Malley, the man who led the Biden administration’s negotiations with Iran, has been suspended from his role.

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding answers and greater transparency on why Robert Malley, the man who led the Biden administration’s negotiations with Iran, has been suspended from his role.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the committee chairman, co-wrote the letter with Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) asking the State Department for more information about why Malley has been on unpaid leave from his role as Iran envoy since June.

“We are concerned that some officials at the Department, including yourself, knew about Mr. Malley’s situation for months but did not communicate to Congress about it, even as the Committee expressed bipartisan interest in receiving testimony or a briefing from Mr. Malley on Iran policy,” the lawmakers wrote. “We asked the briefers that the Department keep us regularly informed on this matter going forward, and we were told that they would take our request under consideration. We are sure you understand why we are not satisfied by that response.”

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McCaul previously told The Algemeiner that he was unable to get answers from the Biden administration about Malley’s status even in a classified setting — a charge that he repeated in Tuesday’s letter.

Last week, Princeton University announced that it was hiring Malley as a visiting professor and lecturer, despite him being on leave from the State Department. Meanwhile, Yale University announced the same day that Malley was being brought on as a senior fellow at Yale’s Jackson School of Global Affairs.

The letter from McCaul and Mast added that Malley’s Ivy League appointments “suggest a change to his employment status and that he will be leaving the State Department.”

Malley has been on leave without pay from the State Department since June after it was revealed in media reports that his security clearance had been suspended over potential mishandling of classified material. Multiple media outlets reported last month that the investigation into Malley had been taken over by the FBI.

Malley was a top negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Until his security clearance was suspended, Malley also led the Biden administration’s nuclear talks to revive the agreement, from which the former Trump administration withdrew the US in 2018.

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The State Department has said that Malley’s duties have been taken over by his deputy, Abram Paley. Beyond that, however, the department has largely refused to comment on Malley’s situation, citing personnel rules that prevent officials from discussing his suspension or the investigation.

“I have no specifics to offer other than what you’ve heard me and my colleagues say previously, which is that Rob Malley is on leave,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said last week. “Abram Paley is leading the department’s work in this area, and I will leave it at that.”