On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller demanding an immediate halt to the installment of President Donald Trump‘s appointee for National Security Agency (NSA) General Counsel mere days before the Biden administration takes over.
“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,” Pelosi tweeted Monday, sharing her letter. “This placement should not move forward.”
Ellis accepted the job offer Saturday afternoon and “NSA is moving forward with his employment,” an NSA spokesperson told The Hill on Sunday.
“I ask that you immediately cease plans to improperly install Michael Ellis as the new NSA General Counsel. Additionally, with a copy of this letter to the Acting Inspector General, I am also requesting an investigation into the circumstances of the NSA General Counsel selection process. I have serious concerns about your statement that this process was free from political interference,” the letter reads.
“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. 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,” Pelosi continued.
“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. 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,” Pelosi wrote.
“The circumstances and timing – immediately after President Trump’s defeat in the election – of the selection of Mr. Ellis, and this eleventh-hour effort to push this placement in the last three days of this Administration are highly suspect. Further, the efforts to install him or “burrow” him into a highly sensitive intelligence position 72 hours prior to the beginning of a new Administration manifest a disturbing disregard for our national security,” Pelosi added. “Therefore, this placement should not move forward.”
A spokesperson from the Office of the Secretary of Defense told this reporter in a statement that the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (DoD) is “the sole selection authority for” NSA General Counsel and other “senior career DoD General Counsel positions” and that the Director of the NSA doesn’t “select or approve of candidates” for NSA General Counsel.
“A candidate for a career position is not automatically excluded from consideration due to ‘administration ties’ – as the two prior NSA Generals Counsel were not excluded from consideration and eventual selection due to their ‘administration ties,'” the statement continues. “Once a candidate is selected through the merit system, given an offer and meets the requirements to be entered into the position, if that entry does not happen it exposes the Department, Agency and senior leadership to claims for a violation of the merit system principles and processes that are designed to protect the participants in such selections.”
“To be clear, congressional or media interest in a particular hiring action are not justification under the merit system principles and process to delay placing a selected qualified individual in a position,” the spokesperson concluded.
The NSA did not reply to this reporter’s request for comment.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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The California indictment specifically accuses Hunter Biden of failing to pay nearly $200,000 in income tax for the year 2019. This follows his October plea of not guilty to federal gun charges in the District of Delaware, a case originating from a lengthy investigation.
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