'Bad news': Acting Defense Secretary installs Trump and Nunes loyalist as NSA top lawyer
In a move denounced by security and legal experts acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller has ordered the National Security Agency to install Michael Ellis, a Trump loyalist, former chief counsel to GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, and Republican political operative, as the NSA's top lawyer. The role is a civil service position, not one in which a political nominee is legally allowed to be placed.
Miller ordered the NSA chief, General Paul Nakasone, to install Ellis by Saturday at 6 PM. National security experts were relieved when it appeared Nakasone had refused, but on Sunday The Washington Post and CNN both reported Ellis will be the agency's general counsel.
"Mr. Ellis accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon," the NSA said in a statement Sunday, the Post reports, which is just three days before Trump will no longer be president. "NSA is moving forward with his employment."
Susan Hennessey, a former Intelligence Community attorney who is now a CNN National Security and Legal Analyst, on Saturday basted the Trump administration's 11th hour attempt to subvert the process and blasted Ellis himself as "bad bad news."
At this point, no one should extend this selection process the benefit of the doubt. By all indication, the Trump a… https://t.co/BPCv56uS4Z— Susan Hennessey (@Susan Hennessey) 1610843099.0
On Sunday, after news broke that Ellis will be installed, Hennessey noted that he is now "entirely incapable of credibly leading the office or performing the functions of the job."
The irony of this is that, had this actually been a legitimate and proper selection process (it wasn't but let's pr… https://t.co/6qarddyAci— Susan Hennessey (@Susan Hennessey) 1610906029.0
She also suggested Ellis is not qualified:
By the way, I know it seems like a small point, but this is a really difficult, really important job and we have a… https://t.co/dTnHzkSWLL— Susan Hennessey (@Susan Hennessey) 1610845649.0
Also on Sunday former SDNY federal prosecutor and former Dept. of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich tweeted the "subversion of government continues. No previous lame duck Administration would have attempted something like this. This guy should be terminated on Day 1," he said, referring to Ellis.
In 2017 Ellis, who worked in the White House Counsel's office, was responsible leaking intelligence to Rep. Devin Nunes that kicked off Trump's lies that his "wires" had been "tapped."
The New York Times reported in March of that year that Ellis leaked "intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies."
Former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel:
3. Update on Michael Ellis 1:49PM Saturday, I tweeted that Ellis had (surprisingly) not made it to the NSA. 6:40P… https://t.co/XgUQaCZjtn— Ryan Goodman (@Ryan Goodman) 1610843368.0
Talking Points Memo founder and publisher Josh Marshall:
Aside from the improper nature of this, Ellis is bad bad news. A key player in the early White House “unmasking” ch… https://t.co/e1wsiQdx6V— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall) 1610857242.0
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