Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns

Former GOP operative Michael Ellis resigned from his post as the National Security Agency’s top lawyer on Friday, after being placed on administrative leave the day President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE left office.

According to The Washington Post, Ellis, who had been sidelined from the agency for nearly three months, was placed on leave in January pending an investigation by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel, and a security inquiry regarding his handling of classified information.

Ellis reportedly resigned on Friday, writing in a letter to NSA Director Paul Nakasone that he was “disappointed that you are not willing to meet with me or provide any additional information about NSA’s actions.”


“I have been on administrative leave for nearly three months without any explanation or updates, and there is no sign that NSA will attempt to resolve the issue. I therefore resign my position, effective immediately,” Ellis continued in a letter to Nakasone, obtained by The Post.

Nakasone on Friday told Congress that the inspector general inquiry into the circumstances of Ellis’ hire remained open.

In the letter, however, Ellis said that Nakasone confirmed at a congressional hearing that he was “aware in December 2020 that the Department of Defense Inspector General had completed a preliminary review of the process that led to my selection and found no improper political influence.”

The Hill has reached out to the NSA for confirmation and comment.

Fox News first reported on Ellis’ resignation.

Ellis, who had previously served as a staffer at the National Security Council (NSC) and chief counsel for Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesMcCarthy unveils House GOP task forces, chairs Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns Sunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues MORE (R-Calif.), was installed in his position at the NSA days before Trump left office, reportedly following an order from former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.

Sources told the Times and the Post that at the time, Nakasone was not supportive of Ellis’ appointment over other career officials at the agency.