TEHRAN TIMES Exclusive: The Letter that Brought Rob Malley Down
Republican lawmakers are calling for the State Department to probe how the Tehran Times, an Iranian state-run media outlet, obtained a purported memo informing U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley that his security clearance was suspended.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul (R-Texas), said Monday in a statement that Foggy Bottom “needs to do a top to bottom security review, because I am concerned they have a leak.”
McCaul also touched on concerns that the Tehran Times has again obtained information that has eluded lawmakers who have demanded to know more about an ongoing investigation into Malley, which involves questions about whether he should be allowed to handle classified information. Last month, McCaul threatened to subpoena the State Department for details of the case.
“If this memo is authentic, it is extremely concerning, especially since this is not the first time the Iranian regime’s mouthpiece has appeared to have sensitive U.S. government information recently while Congress is kept in the dark,” McCaul said.
Close observers of Iran believe the English-language Tehran Times is controlled by hardline Iranian government factions. The outlet published several stories in recent months that appear to put it ahead of other media, including Washington outlets, on the Malley case.
The media outlet reported Sunday — based on what it claimed was an April 21 memo from a top State Department diplomatic security official to Malley — that Malley’s top secret clearance was suspended over “serious security concerns” related to his “personal conduct,” “handling of protected information” and “use of information technology.”
It published what it said was the memo, which is labeled as “sensitive but unclassified.”
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Monday called for the State Department Inspector General to probe how the Tehran Times obtained the memo.
“It is shocking and, to my knowledge, unprecedented that a propaganda arm of Iran’s terrorist regime got its hands on what appears to be a ‘Sensitive But Unclassified’ April 2023 memo related to the suspension of Special Envoy Rob Malley’s security clearance,” Hagerty said in a statement.
The Biden administration has not publicly acknowledged that Malley is under investigation. In late June, officials said he was placed on full-time, unpaid leave, as news organizations reported that he was under investigation and that his security clearance was suspended. But the administration has refused to divulge details, citing privacy concerns among other reasons.
The document, purportedly from Erin Smart, Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Personnel Security and Suitability, cites three reasons for Malley’s suspension: “Personal Conduct,” “Handling of Protected Information,” and “Use of Information Technology.” The memorandum further underscores that Malley’s “continued national security eligibility is not clearly consistent with the interests of national security.”
Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed concerns in July, hinting at a possible subpoena if the Biden administration remains reticent on the specifics of Malley’s situation.
McCaul, relying on publicly available information, voiced serious apprehensions: “If he (Malley) has leaked very sensitive or classified information to our foreign adversaries like Iran or Russia, that’s a very serious act that would fall under treason.”