'Bad news': Acting Defense Secretary installs Trump and Nunes loyalist as NSA top lawyer

'Bad news': Acting Defense Secretary installs Trump and Nunes loyalist as NSA top lawyer
Image via Screengrab / Jeopardy

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."


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."



She also suggested Ellis is not qualified:



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."

More reactions:

Former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel:



Talking Points Memo founder and publisher Josh Marshall:



Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.