The FBI has reportedly launched an investigation into Rob Malley, President Joe Biden’s special envoy to Iran, over his handling of classified material.
News broke last month that Malley, who has been widely criticized for being soft on Iran, was suspended after the State Department launched an investigation over “possible mishandling of classified information.”
Semafor reported Friday that the matter has now turned into an FBI investigation, according to a source in the State Department.
The report noted that the escalation in the investigation “suggests that investigators are considering something beyond the lowest-level mishandling of documents.”
CNN reported last month that his security clearance was pulled earlier this year and that he was placed “on leave without pay.”
“I have been informed that my security clearance is under review,” he said. “I have not been provided any further information, but I expect the investigation to be resolved favorably and soon. In the meantime, I am on leave.”
A senior U.S. official told Semafor that for a political appointee to have their security clearance revoked, federal law enforcement would have to have an open investigation, meaning the investigation has likely been going on for a while.
Malley, whose anti-Israel, pro-Iranian perspective has colored his career, came under fire late last year over his tepid response as Iranian protesters target the despotic, theocratic Iranian government.
Malley’s avoidance of condemning the Iranian regime’s violent oppression of the Iranian people was in line with his prior history, and he was not alone in the Biden administration in his unwillingness to acknowledge the Iranian people’s fervent desire to rid themselves of their tyrannical government.
“Marchers in Washington and cities around the world are showing their support for the Iranian people, who continue to peacefully demonstrate for their government to respect their dignity and human rights,” Malley tweeted last year as protests raged in Iran. He later apologized for the tweet.
Bryan Leib, former executive director of Iranian Americans for Liberty, said, “Robert Malley will go down in the history books as the most ineffective and feckless State Department official of the last 50 years. It’s time for him to go. His most recent gaffe on Twitter is just another example of how he has aligned the United States government with the Islamic Republic and not with liberty-seeking Iranian people. His fake apology is not accepted and he should be terminated immediately.”
Richard Goldberg, senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said bluntly, “So long as Malley is special envoy, you know the administration’s policy remains offering sanctions relief to the regime in Tehran. If he leaves, it’ll be the first signal of a policy shift away from accommodating the regime and toward helping the Iranian people.”
Hank Berrien contributed to this report.