Former GOP operative Michael Ellis positioned on administrative go away from NSA’s high lawyer job

Nakasone was instructed by then Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller on Saturday to install Ellis by 6 p.m. that day.

An NSA spokesman declined to comment.

Ellis, then a political appointee, had been appointed to the post in November after a public service competition. His selection by Pentagon Attorney General Paul Ney has been under pressure from the White House, according to people familiar with the matter.

But Ellis hadn’t accepted the job until the weekend. The delay was partly due to his having to meet administrative and security requirements, such as: B. passing a polygraph test. Nakasone also had concerns about Ellis’ selection and took steps to ensure that it complied with the personnel guidelines that apply to senior career officials in the intelligence community.

Under pressure from Miller, the agency announced on Sunday that it would move ahead with the installation, and on Tuesday Ellis took over his post.

Nakasone has no authority over Ellis’ hiring or firing. That power rests with the Pentagon General Counsel.

Ellis could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. On Saturday, he told a reporter that he had not “spoken to the press” before hanging up.

Miller’s order days before the Biden administration was to raise eyebrows, alarming critics who said Ellis’ appointment was the politicization of a career job at the helm of the country’s largest espionage agency.

Critics said they feared it would be an effort to “dig” or embed a political officer in a public service position when one administration gave way to another.

Ellis’ placement on administrative leave was first reported by CBS News.

Senator Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Now chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senator Jack Reed (DR.I.), who now chairs the Senate Armed Forces Committee, asked the incumbent Inspector General of the Pentagon to Ellis’ selection in November examine. They raised concerns about “undue political influence” and also that Ellis was selected over other qualified candidates.

Concern about Ellis relates to his relationship with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) Together, a Trump loyalist whom Ellis helped gain access to intelligence documents in early 2017 in order to target President Donald Trump’s political attacks on Democrats support. Ellis served Nunes as chief attorney when Nunes chaired the House Intelligence Committee.

Ellis was also embroiled in the controversy surrounding the review of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book on classified information. According to Ellen Knight, a former White House career official in charge of the review, Ellis was trying to prevent the publication of part of the manuscript dealing with Ukraine that would likely harm Trump if it did during his impeachment in the year 2020 would come out process in the Senate.

Ellis also conducted his own review of the manuscript and, as the policy officer, disagreed with the career officials’ conclusion that the book was cleared for publication, according to Knight, who documented their concerns in a September 2020 letter.

Ellis joined the White House in 2017 when he became an attorney on the National Security Council and was named senior director in 2019. He held that position earlier this month.

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