Lindsay Graham seemed very happy with Biden’s candidate as Secretary of State

New York times

The National Security Agency proves Trump loyal as the best attorney days before Biden takes office

The National Security Agency (NSA) said on Sunday that the National Security Agency is pressing ahead with the appointment of a Trump administration loyalist, after the acting defense secretary ordered him to be appointed the spy agency’s top attorney. Christopher C. Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, Director of the spying agency, gave until 6 p.m. on Saturday to appoint Michael Ellis as its general counsel. The deadline came and went with the NSA remaining silent. But the agency said in a statement Sunday that “Ellis accepted his latest job offer yesterday afternoon. NSA is moving ahead with his job.” He was not formally sworn in, and it is not clear when that will happen. Subscribe to The Morning Newsletter from The New York Times. Ellis has been accused of participating in one of the most controversial legal decisions made by the Trump administration: an attempt to prevent John Bolton, a former national security advisor, from publishing a conviction book. For the president. Ellis’ allies pressed for his inauguration prior to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. While it would be difficult to dismiss Ellis under the civil service rules, the Biden administration could easily reassign him to another, less important position. Biden’s transition team declined to comment. Ellis, a senior National Security Council official and former Republican attorney on the House Intelligence Committee, applied months ago to be the general counsel for the National Security Agency. He was one of three finalists, though he did not receive the highest marks from the Candidate Evaluation Committee, according to people familiar with the hiring process. However, White House officials told the Pentagon General Counsel that the administration favored Ellis for the position. Appointing a politically appointed civil servant is a complex procedure that requires various approvals to prevent favoritism in the hiring process. With Ellis, the Office of Personnel Management ultimately decided that the position of General Counsel was relieved of the policy requiring special approval, although those deliberations slowed the process. Ellis also had to seek a new security clearance. Although Nakasone was not happy with choosing Ellis in place of career officials at the NSA, he did not hinder or slow down the process of installing Ellis, according to two people familiar with the matter. However, he insisted that all procedures were followed and all approvals were drawn up in writing. A senior US official said Miller was angry at the Pentagon because the agency leadership had slowly rolled over Ellis’ premiums for several months despite undergoing the standard hiring process and being selected for the position. So Miller ordered the agency to be sworn in in Ellis, a move the Washington Post reported Saturday. In a statement, the Pentagon defended the employment of Ellis, saying he had been properly selected by the Department of Defense General Counsel. “To be clear, the interest of Congress or the media in conducting a particular recruitment is not justified under the principles of the merit system and the process of delaying the placement of a qualified selected individual in the position,” the statement said. Ellis is seen as an intelligent attorney. But the pressure to appoint him to a permanent government job has baffled some. According to former officials, the Office of General Counsel is likely to enter under a great deal of suspicion and fight an uphill battle to win Nakasone’s trust. Ellis would be a member of the Supreme Executive Service, a civil service position with strong protection against dismissal. However, civil servants could easily be transferred to the Ministry of Defense, so that he could be granted a legal position elsewhere in the sprawling section – overseeing environmental compliance at a remote military base, for example. When Ellis was on the Intelligence Committee, he was a trusted advisor to Rep. Devin Nunes, California. Ellis has held various positions in the Trump administration, including serving as a lawyer for the National Security Council and then as the director of senior intelligence at the White House at the White House. Nationalist. The Justice Department, under pressure from President Donald Trump, sued Bolton to recover his profits from the book. A judge overseeing the case issued a ruling Thursday making it extremely likely that Bolton’s attorney, Charles J. Cooper, could question White House officials like Ellis about whether the rating decisions were made in bad faith. If Ellis takes over as general counsel, at least for some time, he might be able to procrastinate that testimony. Ellis is also under investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General to examine accusations that he retaliated against Yevgeny Vindman, who went to Eugene and worked with Ellis as a lawyer for the National Security Council. Vindman is the twin brother of Alexander S. Windman, a former army lieutenant colonel who testified against Trump in his first impeachment trial. Early in Trump’s term, Ellis provided intelligence reports to Nunes that Trump’s associates had been subjected to foreign surveillance by US intelligence agencies. The materials are at the core of Trump’s recurring accusation that the Obama administration spied on his campaign. Trump allies have pressed for a declassification of documents that some conservatives believe will support the allegations, including last-minute pressures in recent days. In reality, however, Ellis would not have much direct authority to declassify those documents or to overcome Nakasone’s objections to their release. It is not clear exactly what prompted the Pentagon to push Nakasone to rush into hiring Ellis. However, Trump met with Miller on Friday to discuss various issues, according to a senior US official. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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Ross Schultz

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