Finally, Congress Is Investigating Iran Envoy Rob Malley, Whose Closest Advisors Are Linked to Tehran


After Hamas' surprise attack on Israel that has led to a formal declaration of war in the Middle East, a lot of attention has justifiably been given to the most recent deal the Democrats made with Iran - giving the mullahs access to $6 billion that had been frozen and sending some of their militants we'd apprehended back to Iran. But much more attention needs to be focused on Rob Malley, who was Biden's Iran Envoy until his security clearance was suspended in April amid allegations of mishandling classified information that are under investigation by the FBI. That attention is now coming, with the House Oversight & Accountability Committee launching an investigation into the administration's concessions to the Iranian regime and Malley's actions specifically.

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In addition, after reports linking him to an Iranian operative currently working in the Pentagon, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee opened an investigation into Malley on Friday, October 6, just prior to Hamas' attack.

If you're not familiar with Malley, he was the lead negotiator for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran deal and was brought into the Biden administration to try to resurrect it. 

In a press release announcing the investigation, Chair James Comer and Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Chair of the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs wrote:

"The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating the Biden Administration’s efforts to conceal details about its ongoing secret nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran from Congress, ignoring statutory obligations for congressional oversight. The Administration’s lack of transparency is even more troubling in light of press reports about Iran’s direct role in this weekend’s horrific attack on Israel by Hamas and additional revelations that former Special Envoy for Iran (SEI), Robert Malley, and members of his negotiating team may have had compromising ties to the Iranian regime. We request documents, information, and a briefing to assist the Committee’s investigation of these matters."

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At least one member of Malley's negotiating team the committee wants more information about is Ariane Tabatabai, who was born in Iran, educated in the U.S. and U.K., and whose father was a philosophy professor at the University of Tehran.

"According to recent media reports, a former member of Mr. Malley’s Iran negotiating team, Ariane Tabatabai, was in close contact with the Iranian regime for years. Ms. Tabatabai participated in the regime-backed Iran Experts Initiative (IEI), which was launched by senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials in the spring of 2014. The alleged purpose of the initiative was to cultivate a network of European and U.S. researchers that could be used to bolster Iran’s image on global security matters, especially its nuclear program. Its members reportedly worked very closely with the Iranian regime toward this end. Incredibly, despite her previous contact with Iranian regime officials through this unofficial regime-backed network, including consulting with them regarding her potential travel, Ms. Tabatabai is now a high-level staffer within the Department of Defense where she continues to hold a security clearance."

Tabatabai's specific position, as Streiff reported, is as chief of staff to Christopher Maier, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, the Defense Department's top counterterrorism official. That's quite concerning, given what just happened. In addition, counterterrorism analysts speaking to RedState on condition of anonymity, whose reports would have crossed Tabatabai's desk, say that for at least the past year their product has been watered down, misquoted, or outright quashed. Tabatabai had the opportunity to shape the intelligence to meet her needs, the analysts say, and they say it's likely that the overt intel collected during that period went to Iran.

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Malley is also extremely close to IEI members Dina Esfandiary and Ali Vaez, both of whom he brought to work with him at International Crisis Group (ICG), a think tank he currently heads. Vaez is described by Semafor as Malley's protege; Malley attempted to have Vaez work with him at the State Department during the Obama administration but Vaez couldn't get a security clearance due to his close connections to Tehran. Both Esfandiary and Vaez continued their employment at ICG when Malley went to the Biden administration.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has known Malley since they were classmates at the same posh high school in France, Comer said (emphasis mine):

The United States made recent concessions to Iran, potentially in violation of the Iranian Nuclear Review Act (INARA). These concessions occurred as Mr. Malley—the Administration’s top negotiator with Iran—is under investigation for the alleged mishandling of classified material. Mr. Malley already had a history of appeasing United States’ adversaries, including meeting with the terrorist group Hamas. The ongoing investigation into Mr. Malley’s security violations are so serious that he was suspended from his position without pay. Further, the investigation was initially hidden from Congress, the American people, and even his fellow State Department officials.

To assist in the investigation, Blinken is to provide numerous documents to the committee related to both Malley and Tabatabai, including the public and private calendars of both Malley and the Acting SEI Abram Paley, all forms and documents related to Ariane Tabatabai's security clearance while she was at State (including her Standard Form 86), all of Tabatabai's incoming and outgoing communications while she was at State, and all documents and communications mentioning any Americans imprisoned by Iran. He is to provide those documents no later than October 25 (but undoubtedly will claim he is too busy with war-related diplomatic duties to get it done by then), and a staff-level briefing by October 18.

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Malley's security clearance was suspended back in April; interestingly, an Iranian state media outlet published what purports to be the official letter sent to Malley announcing the suspension.

Note the date on that - August 2023, long after the suspension, and while the State Department was actively stonewalling Congress' inquiries about the situation.

In the current conflict, there's no doubt as to where Malley's sympathies lie.

He said:

"It’s a mistake to only think of them in terms of their terrorist violence dimension. It has a charity organization, a social branch; it’s not something you can defeat militarily either and people need to understand that. There’s so much misinformation about them. None of them are crazies. They may do things that we consider to belong to a different realm of rationality, but within their own system it’s often very logical.

“If Hamas is not allowed to govern, if we squeeze them, and you know you may have good reason for doing that, but if you do that, we’ll tell you what the reaction will be — rockets. No doubt. And consolidation of Hamas’ power in Gaza. Both things have happened.”

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The next thing Congress must do is demand that Ariane Tabatabai's security clearance be revoked and remove her from her position, then have a full and complete investigation performed, looking at every single communication the woman had and how she shaped the intelligence to fit her needs. Then, possibly, we can start making some progress on rolling back the infiltration of our intelligence apparatus.

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