Malley did not say when the license began or its extent. He has gave interviews about Iran at least at the end of May.
Malley is a lightning rod among President Joe Biden’s aides because he has been willing to bring in some controversial figures and many anti-Iranian extremists passionately loathe him.
Malley resigned as an informal adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 when it emerged that he had met with members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas while working for the International Crisis Group, a conflict research organization.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement to reporters on Thursday that Malley was on leave but gave no details as to why.
“Abram Paley is serving as special envoy for Iran and is leading the department’s work in this area,” Miller added.
Alexander Ward contributed to this report.