White House official involved in Ukraine scandal is promoted to the NSA

The Trump Timeline

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Sometime on Monday, the Pentagon caves to pressure from the White House and names Michael Ellis the new top lawyer for the National Security Agency (NSA).

Ellis is a GOP operative who served as counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes before being promoted to serving the National Security Council. Earlier this year, he was promoted again to senior director for intelligence.

With his new position, Ellis will not be easily replaced when the next administration takes over.

As general counsel, he will no longer be a presidential appointee, but a senior civil servant with civil service protections. A future Pentagon general counsel could choose to assign him to a different civil service position.

The Washington Post

Ellis is best known for two scandals in the Trump years.

First, in March 2017 he provided Nunes access to intelligence files hoping they could be useful in pinning a crime on Barack Obama. (They weren’t.)

Later, in 2019, it was Ellis who suggested that a memo of Trump’s impeachment-level phone call with the president of Ukraine should be moved to the highest classified server available in the White House.

Ellis is also a friend of Kashyap “Kash” Patel who also receives a promotion this week.

Mr. Patel is closely aligned on the National Security Council staff with another alumnus of Mr. Nunes’s committee, Michael Ellis, now a top White House lawyer. Mr. Ellis worked for Mr. Nunes for years as a lawyer on the House Intelligence Committee and helped champion Mr. Patel’s work on the staff, a person familiar with their roles said.

Mr. Ellis was involved in another bizarre episode early in the Trump administration in which he and another White House lawyer printed highly classified reports to show Mr. Nunes, who used them to accuse Obama administration officials of spying on Mr. Trump and his associates. The claims quickly unraveled, and Mr. Nunes eventually recused himself from his committee’s own Russia investigation as a result.

The New York Times, October 2019





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