HomeTop StoriesRepublican lawmaker denies State Dept's response to US envoy to Iran

Republican lawmaker denies State Dept’s response to US envoy to Iran

By Arshad Mohammed

(Reuters) – A leading US Republican lawmaker on Tuesday criticized a State Department response to its investigation into why the US special envoy for Iran’s security clearance was rated “absolutely unacceptable”.

Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on June 30 asking for “full and transparent accountability” of an investigation into the envoy, Rob Malley.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US official said Malley was put on unpaid leave on June 29 after news broke that his security clearance was under review.

In a response made public by McCaul’s office, Naz Durakoglu, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, said the agency had a “thorough and comprehensive process” for assessing an individual’s eligibility for access to classified information .

“In accordance with the long-standing policies and practices of the Executive Branch and the State Department, the Department is unable to provide any further documents or information related to this matter of personnel security clearance,” she said.

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McCaul said in a terse statement: “This is an absolutely unacceptable response.”

“Congress deserves to know exactly why the US special envoy (for) Iran had his security clearance suspended, then suspended from office and is now, according to news reports, under investigation by the FBI,” McCaul added. ask the agency for a secret briefing next week.

When news broke on June 29 that his security clearance was under review, Malley said: “I have been informed that my security clearance is under review. I have not received any further information, but I expect the investigation to be concluded favorably and soon.” In the meantime, I’m on leave.”

In a regular briefing on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Matt Miller said Malley “stopped performing the duties” of special envoy to Iran on June 29 and “went on furlough several weeks before,” but he declined to provide further details.

Appointed shortly after Democratic President Joe Biden took office in 2021, Malley was tasked with trying to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, had abandoned the pact in 2018 and re-imposed US sanctions on Iran.

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After the United States failed to revive the deal, the United States has held talks with Iran to try to ease tensions by outlining steps that could limit Iran’s nuclear program, detain some detained US citizens and could release some Iranian assets abroad, Iranian and Western officials said in June.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Simon Lewis; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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