Pelosi raises alarm after Trump loyalist installed as top NSA lawyer
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is raising alarms about Michael Ellis, a former GOP operative and Trump loyalist, being installed as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency (NSA).
Pelosi sent a letter to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller demanding that the former White House official not be put in the position of general counsel at the NSA.
The Speaker blasted Ellis in a tweet on Monday, saying “the attempt to install an unqualified Trump loyalist as NSA General Counsel just 72 hours prior to the start of a new Administration is highly irregular and highly suspect. This placement should not move forward.”
“I ask that you immediately cease plans to improperly install Michael Ellis as the new NSA General Counsel,” wrote Pelosi in her letter, which was dated Sunday and released Monday.
Pelosi said she had “serious concerns” regarding the selection process and whether it was free of political interference. She also argued that Ellis’s last-minute appointment showed a “disturbing disregard for our national security.”
“Public reporting indicates that Mr. Ellis, a relatively recent law school graduate with a limited resume, was selected due to interference by the White House, and was chosen over much more qualified candidates,” Pelosi added.
“Moreover, Mr. Ellis has been reportedly involved in highly questionable activities that are disqualifying – including the infamous 2017 ‘midnight run’ to launder intelligence information through Rep. Devin Nunes and with efforts to shield information about President Trump’s July 2019 call with the President of Ukraine.”
An NSA spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that Ellis would be installed as general counsel for the agency less than a week before President Trump leaves office.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a staunch Trump ally, has been accused of receiving materials from Ukrainian sources meant to damage President-elect Joe Biden’s reputation during his 2020 campaign. Ellis previously worked as counsel for Nunes.
“The NSA General Counsel, which involves supervising many intelligence community attorneys and interacting with intelligence agencies, is a highly sensitive career position for which candidates are selected, based on merit and free from political influence,” Pelosi wrote Sunday.
“If Mr. Ellis did go through the traditional civil service hiring process, I request a detailed account of that process, to understand how someone with his credentials was chosen over other qualified candidates.”
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