The National Security Agency is “moving forward” to install Michael Ellis, a former GOP political operative and White House official, as the agency’s top lawyer, the agency said Sunday.
The announcement came a day after acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller ordered the NSA director, Gen. Paul Nakasone, to immediately place Ellis in position as the agency’s general counsel. “Mr. Ellis accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon,” the NSA said in a statement Sunday.
Ellis is a former aide to Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA)
Nakasone was not in favor of Ellis’s selection and sought to delay his installation, according to several people familiar with the issue, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
Ellis was selected under pressure from the White House, people familiar with the matter said at the time. The move drew criticism from national security legal experts as an attempt to politicize a career position.
It comes just a few days before President Trump leaves office, and complicates the Biden administration’s options for immediately replacing him, former officials said.