Can't Make It Up: Biden's Iran Envoy Looks Very Much Like a Spy


Republicans in Congress are expressing their concerns over President Joe Biden’s Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley — after finding evidence that he downloaded documents, both sensitive and classified, and could have shared that information with contacts outside the United States government.

Semafor reported, Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho and Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas wrote Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 6 regarding findings from their inquiry into Malley.

Malley was leading diplomacy efforts with Tehran when his security clearance was revoked by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security in April 2023. Malley was placed on unpaid leave in June 2023, and the FBI started an investigation that’s still ongoing.

Semafor also reported, based on unnamed sources briefed on a congressional investigation into Malley, that the disgraced official transferred both sensitive and unclassified, as well as classified documents, to his personal devices — some of which involve his encounters with Iranian officials.

Among the questions raised by Risch and McCaul to Blinken were ones about these documents. “Did Malley send or attempt to send these documents to anyone who lacked the proper security clearance?”

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They also asked, “Were any of these individuals affiliated with the Iranian government or the Iran Experts Initiative (IEI)?”

The IEI is a collective of experts on the Middle East based out of the United States and Europe. Semafor investigated the group in 2023 and found Iran used it to the benefit of many of its policy issues. Members of the IEI worked with Malley before and when he was special envoy to Iran.

Risch and McCaul expressed concerns to Blinken that Malley may have been hacked by the Iranians, a suspicion they had after information in his possession went public in Iran in early 2023. The Republicans believe that if Malley shared information on his devices with IEI, that could explain how it fell into the hands of the Iranian media.

Was Robert Malley giving away U.S. secrets?

The FBI and State Department aren’t disclosing the details of their efforts.

While there can only be speculation regarding Malley as the investigation is still underway, the information above doesn’t bode well for him.

There are certainly gaps in the story here: Why did Malley use personal devices for that information and how did it come to be in the possession of the Iranians?

Did Malley act against American interests and willingly share information with Iran? If not, did he share information with the IEI, which subsequently passed it along to Iran?

Another explanation may be that the information was mishandled by Malley and taken by Iran without his consent via hacking his devices.

To look at the broader context of the issue for the Biden administration, whatever the origins of it, Biden’s foreign policy record does not need any further negative press.

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Aside from an ongoing conflict in Europe between Ukraine and Russia where Americans are largely footing the bill of the former, the United States’ relationship with the Middle East remains tense in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel. In April, Iran chose to attack Israel in support of Hamas’ efforts.

Additionally, whistleblowers recently outed former Secretary of State John Kerry who served under President Barack Obama for his efforts to impede the FBI and Department of Justice arresting Iranian terrorists as he was trying to negotiate his Iran Nuclear Deal in 2015 and after its completion in 2016.

While the evidence so far cannot allow anyone to label Malley a spy for Iran, the Biden administration and FBI must be transparent with their findings about his intentions.

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Sam Short is an Instructor of History with Motlow State Community College in Smyrna, Tennessee. He holds a BA in History from Middle Tennessee State University and an MA in History from University College London.