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Pelosi demands halt to installing Trump appointee as NSA General Counsel

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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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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar kicked off House Foreign Affairs Committee

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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar was voted off the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday. The action was expected, as Republican members of Congress had criticized Omar’s antisemetic and anti-American rhetoric.

After intense debating on the House floor, the resolution passed with a 218-211 vote. Democrats attempted to pull the race card, accusing Republican House members of racism for removing Omar from the committee.

Omar also accused House Republicans of racism, saying, “I am Muslim, I am an immigrant, and interestingly, from Africa…Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy, or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced?”

“There is this idea that you are a suspect if you are an immigrant or if you are from certain parts of the world or certain skin tone or a muslim.” Omar said during the heated debate. A fiery Alexandria Ocasia Cortez also chimed in shouting, “This is an attack on women of color!”

Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, from New York, said she had personally witnessed Omar spew anti-American rhetoric. Malliotakis said, “I have been in that committee room where, the representative, equates Israel and the United States to Hamas and the Taliban. Absolutely unacceptable for a member of that committee.”

A four-page resolution was written for the justification of removing Omar from the house Foreign Affairs Committee. The resolution states that in 2019, Omar suggested that Jewish people were buying U.S. political support when she posted on Twitter, “it’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”

Omar also commented on the September 11th attacks saying, “some people did something.” This type of comment is unacceptable for any representative who is sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, lawmakers said.

In the resolution it states that members of this committee should all be held to an “equal standard of conduct due to the international sensitivities and national security concerns under the jurisdiction of this committee.”

 

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