While most of the media's attention has been focused on former President Donald Trump's classified documents case, President Joe Biden and his administration have a developing scandal of their own involving the alleged mishandling of classified materials.
A top Biden administration official, Robert Malley, the president's special envoy to the Islamic Republic of Iran, is reportedly under investigation by the FBI for mishandling classified information, according to the Daily Wire.
Reports indicate that the revelation of the FBI investigation followed the news that Malley had been placed on unpaid leave and had his security clearance suspended.
Semafor reported Friday that, according to an unnamed State Department source who'd been "briefed on the matter," President Biden's special envoy for Iran Rob Malley is under investigation for his handling of classified materials by the FBI.
Of course, as is typical, the White House refused to comment on the matter and referred any questions to the State Department, which in turn simply pointed to a statement issued last week which announced without any explanation that Malley had been placed on leave.
Likewise, the FBI declined to respond to a request for comment, as did Malley himself, when asked by the outlet.
Semafor suggested that an FBI investigation of a top administration official like Malley would seemingly indicate that this is a serious matter, and cited other unnamed sources who said that a high-level political appointee like Malley would not have had his security clearance suspended or been placed on leave, much less be under federal investigation, if this was some sort of low-level offense or technical violation.
It is unclear exactly what Malley is alleged to have done to warrant a criminal investigation by the FBI, but it is notable that he has been meeting frequently with Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, ostensibly to discuss a possible prisoner exchange, in addition to his purported primary job of attempting to revive the failed 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that he helped craft while working for the Obama administration.
CNN reported on June 29 that Malley had been placed on unpaid leave after having his security clearance suspended amid an internal "State Department diplomatic security investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information."
In a statement to CNN at that time, Malley said, "I have been informed that my security clearance is under review. 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."
That was seemingly confirmed by a statement from State Department spokesperson Matt Miller -- though earlier in the day Miller had said that Malley was still the special envoy to Iran -- who said, "Rob Malley is on leave and Abram Paley is serving as acting Special Envoy for Iran and leading the Department’s work in this area."
Yet, while that report seemed to imply that Malley had just then been placed on leave, Axios reported that same day that Malley himself acknowledged that he had been placed on unpaid leave "several weeks ago" due to the matter involving his security clearance.
Further, Axios pointed to a moment in late May when Malley did not participate in a classified briefing to the Senate as suggestive that he had been placed on leave back then -- though the State Department said at the time of the briefing that Malley was "still very much engaged on this issue" -- and the more recent Semafor report cited unnamed officials who said Malley had been absent for at least a month.
Interestingly enough, this developing scandal has at least some potential of also ensnaring Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is reportedly very close friends with Malley as both CNN and Semafor noted that the pair have known each other since they attended high school together in Paris, France, several decades ago.