Scott, Hagerty Expand Oversight of Senior Diplomats’ Rescinded Security Clearances Following Iran Envoy Scandal
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Senators Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing the State Department Security Notification Act, which requires the Secretary of State to notify Congress when the security clearances of senior members of the State Department are suspended or revoked. This legislation comes after the Biden administration withheld information regarding the suspension of Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley’s security clearance after he mishandled sensitive classified information. Earlier this year, Senator Scott led his colleagues in demanding an investigation into how the Department of State handled Malley’s suspension.
“With Iranian proxies attacking U.S. troops in the Middle East and Iranian-backed Hamas waging terror against America’s greatest ally in the region, strong, reliable and consistent leadership on Iran policy has never been more important,” said Senator Scott. “The fact that President Biden’s hand-picked Special Envoy to Iran – one of our greatest adversaries – could not maintain a proper security clearance illustrates gross incompetence, and the attempt to cover it up illustrates blatant misconduct. The American people deserve answers and transparency. More importantly, they demand this never happens again.”
“The State Department’s refusal to provide transparency regarding Robert Malley and the handling of his security clearance has been deeply concerning,” said Senator Hagerty. “I’m pleased to introduce this legislation that will require the State Department to notify and brief Congress if it revokes or suspends security clearances of senior officials.”
“The American people deserve to know about serious security breaches at the State Department,” said Senator Barrasso. “It is especially important when it involves senior members like the Special Envoy to Iran. Without transparency and oversight in the reported mishandling of classified information, the Biden administration is putting our national security at risk. In light of the many challenges we face across the globe, Congress must be aware when senior members are under investigation for mishandling critical intelligence and information pertaining to our nation’s security.”
“American diplomats are entrusted with some of our nation’s most important information,” said Senator Rubio. “If that trust is ever in doubt, and the State Department has suspended or revoked an official’s security clearance, Congress and the American people have a right to know.”
“Americans want to know why the Biden administration has been so friendly with the Iranian regime, which sponsored the horrific October 7 terrorist attack, and why Biden administration officials have so single-mindedly enabled Iranian nuclear progress and terrorism,” said Senator Cruz. “The Biden administration is deliberately not providing those answers. We know there was vast Iranian influence operation that went to the very top of the administration, we know that Iran Envoy Robert Malley was suspended, and we know investigations are ongoing. The Biden administration’s cover-up must end.”
Representative Brian Mast (R-FL-21) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The State Department Security Notification Act requires:
- The Secretary of State to notify Congress of the name and position of the individual whose security clearance was suspended or revoked no later than 15 days after such suspension or revocation;
- The Secretary of State to provide Congress with a briefing regarding the cause of such suspension or revocation and the current employment status and conditions of such individual no later than 30 days after such suspension or revocation; and
- Senior Department of State employees obtain and maintain a security clearance that allows them to access sensitive compartmented information.Read full text of the legislation here.
- In June 2023, it was reported the State Department placed Special Envoy for Iran Malley “on leave without pay, which occurred after his security clearance was suspended earlier this year amid an investigation into his handling of classified material.”
- Mr. Malley was allowed to continue to work in the department after his security clearance was suspended over the investigation.
- Congress was kept in the dark about the probe for several weeks and only found out about Mr. Malley’s clearance being suspended through media reports.
- House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul stated in June that “Senior State Department officials informed the Committee that Special Envoy Malley was unable to testify or brief [Congress about Iran policy] because he was on personal leave due to the illness of a close family member…..At no point did the Department indicate that Special Envoy Malley’s security clearance was suspended or under review, or that he was being investigated for potential misconduct.”
- In July 2023, Senator Scott joined Senate Republicans in calling for an independent investigation into whether State Department officials complied with all appropriate laws and regulations with respect to the suspension of Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley’s access to classified information.
- In August 2023, Senator Scott led Senate Republicans in demanding answers regarding the Biden Administration’s decision to release $6 billion in frozen assets to Iran, a decision made while Malley served as Special Envoy for Iran.
- In September 2023, Senator Scott joined his Republican colleagues in demanding accountability for actions taken by a senior Department of Defense official who may have been part of an suspected Iranian influence campaign underway at U.S. national security agencies.