The FBI is investigating possible breaches in the handling of classified documents by U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley, according to a report by Semafor.
Malley confirmed last week that he was put on unpaid leave after earlier this year being stripped of his security clearance amid an internal State Department probe.
While details of the case have not been released, Friday’s report noted that the FBI’s involvement suggests a crime may have been committed.
Malley has confirmed that his clearance was “under review,” but that he expected “the investigation to be resolved favorably and soon.”
According to the report, he has been absent from his duties for over a month.
The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee is demanding answers from the State Department over the development.
“The [State] Department’s failure to inform Congress of this matter demonstrates at best a lack of candor, and at worst represents deliberate and potentially unlawful misinformation,” Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Given the gravity of the situation, it is imperative that the Department expeditiously provide a full and transparent accounting of the circumstances surrounding Special Envoy Malley’s clearance suspension and investigation and the Department’s statements to Congress regarding Special Envoy Malley.”
The letter also requests that the White House make available to testify at a public hearing and provide a classified briefing on Capitol Hill by the end of July Acting Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley and National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk.
In June, The Financial Times reported that Malley met on several recent occasions with Tehran’s ambassador to the United Nations in a bid to jumpstart talks regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Malley’s meetings with Amir Saeid Iravani were likely the first direct American-Iranian interactions since then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Jerusalem would act to defend itself against Iranian aggression, amid reports Washington is closing in on a “mini deal” with Tehran.
“We have made it clear, and I reiterate: The State of Israel will do whatever it needs to, with its own means, to defend itself from Iranian aggression both in the nuclear sphere and, of course, through its use of terrorist proxies,” said Netanyahu.
“We have made it clear to our American friends time and again, and I will do so again today, that we oppose the agreements, first of all the original agreement, the JCPOA [2015 Iran nuclear accord], which will only pave Iran’s way to a bomb and line its pockets with hundreds of billions of dollars,” continued the premier.
“Our persistent opposition has contributed to the fact that the U.S. is not returning to this agreement. We have also told them that the most limited understandings, what are termed ‘mini-agreements,’ do not—in our view—serve the goal and we are opposed to them as well,” he added.