The involvement of the FBI in looking into the conduct of US envoy for Iran Rob Malley could indicate a suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, Semafor has reported.
Iran International first reported June 29 that Malley has been absent for a considerable time, his security clearance has been suspended and he is under investigation related to his handling of classified documents. The Involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also reported, although until now no official details have been announced, except that Malley is on “unpaid leave.”
Semafor, however, confirmed Friday that the FBI is investigating Malley, according to a source briefed on the matter within the State Department.
The State Department has only confirmed that Malley is on leave and his deputy Abrams Paley is serving as acting special envoy for Iran. The department did not offer any more information to Semafor either.
Congressional leaders and lawmakers however have been demanding explanations from the Biden administration, since they were never informed about Malley’s long absence.
Soon after the news broke about Malley’s status, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Michael McCaul demanded answers referring to reports that Malley was placed on unpaid leave the same day that Iran International reported about the investigation.
“These reports raise serious concerns both regarding Malley’s conduct and whether the State Department misled Congress and the American public,” McCaul wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Semafor quoted a senior US official as saying that “government agencies would not suspend a clearance independently unless a law enforcement agency has an open investigation.” It also said that although details still remain unclear, “But the involvement of the FBI is significant in that it indicates there could be suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.”
Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) also tweeted on the matter June 30, raising a series of questions. “When did the investigation that led to the suspension of Malley’s clearance begin?”, asked Sen Hagerty, and added, “When were Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden informed of it?”
The senator further asked, “Why did they allow Malley to continue in his diplomatic role while under investigation?” He went further questioning Malley’s appointment in the first place, mentioning that his “contacts with Hamas and other extremist groups raised concern in the past.”
After Fox News also reported on Malley’s situation, Sen. Hagerty tweeted June 6, “This scrutiny of the Biden Admin is warranted given Iran's history of supporting terrorism & pursuing nuclear ambitions. The Admin must take a firm stance in dealing with this regime, & anyone mishandling classified information must be held accountable.”
Many Iranian American activists, who always saw Malley as biased in favor of the Iranian regime, are also asking questions.
Reza Behrouz, a neurologist and professor in Texas tweeted, “We as members of the Iranian American community who initially cautioned about his [Malley’s] appointment…deserve to know what is at stake here. To what extent his egregious conduct adversely affected the national uprising in Iran?”
Meanwhile, other officials are continuing talks with Iran as the administration
Academic and former hostage in Iran Xiyue Wang also tweeted, “In light of Rob Malley’s mishandling of classified information, Biden should suspend all negotiations with Iran at least until the investigation is concluded.”