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Letter to the Editor: Why did Princeton hire Robert Malley?

The side of a white building with pillars with steps leading up to it.
Robertson Hall houses the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

To the Editor:

In an Aug. 23 ‘Prince’ article on the University’s hiring of Robert Malley as a visiting professor and lecturer in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), Malley said he was “grateful for the opportunity to work with the next generation of public servants” while on leave pending an investigation into his handling of classified information.


As an alumnus who works in the national security community, I am deeply concerned that the University would hire someone who is under investigation by the FBI and the State Department for potential violations of the public trust to teach and mentor Princeton students. 

Unlike the SPIA press release announcing Malley’s hiring, the ‘Prince’ correctly noted that Malley had his security clearance suspended and was placed on leave because of an investigation into whether he mishandled classified information. What makes the situation even more noteworthy is that after Malley reportedly had his clearance suspended in April, the Biden Administration was telling members of Congress that Malley was on personal leave. On June 29, State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that Malley remained special envoy, but following that press briefing officials in the department were informed that Malley was being placed on unpaid leave.

It is hard to understate the significance of a high-profile envoy appointed by the president being relieved of their duties in this manner. There are many unanswered questions about what Malley is being investigated for and the circumstances surrounding how he was placed on leave after the clearance suspension.

Malley’s hiring while under investigation should concern members of the Princeton community, especially those pursuing careers “in the nation’s service.” The University needs to explain whether they knew Malley was under investigation when they decided to hire him and, if so, why they hired him in spite of these reports.

Connor Pfeiffer ’18 is executive director of the Forum for American Leadership, a right-leaning think tank and former national security advisor to a member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.