Pelosi Calls to Block Installation of 'Trump Loyalist' from National Security Role
House Speaker worried about Michael Ellis because of 'irregularities'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a block of plans to install so-called "Trump loyalist" Michael Ellis as the new general counsel for the National Security Agency (NSA) just days before Biden's inauguration.
Pelosi said the decision was a threat to national security and described it as "highly suspect."
Pelosi also called for an investigation into alleged "irregularities" in the NSA General Counsel selection process in a letter to acting Department of Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller.
She argued that 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."
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. This placement should not move forward.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 18, 2021
"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," Pelosi wrote.
"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."
"Therefore, this placement should not move forward."
Pelosi also highlighted concerns that Ellis had reportedly been "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."
During his time as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Ellis served as chief counsel for Nunes, R-Calif.
Ellis has also served as an attorney for the National Security Council and the senior director for intelligence for the White House.
Pelosi's letter states:
"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."
Pelosi also requested "a detailed account of that process, to understand how someone with his credentials was chosen over other qualified candidates."
The NSA said in a statement on Sunday:
Ellis "accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon," and the national-level intelligence agency "is moving forward with his employment."
The Pentagon seemingly rejected the House Speaker challenging the integrity of the Department of Defense’s civil service selection process.
"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," Russell Goemaere, a public affairs officer for the Pentagon, said in a statement.
"The General Counsel of the Department of Defense is the sole selection authority for the position of General Counsel of the National Security Agency -- as well as all other senior career DoD General Counsel positions," his statement added.
"The Director of the NSA does not select or approve of candidates for the position of the NSA General Counsel."