Trump’s acting secretary of defense is working to install a Trump loyalist as the top lawyer for the NSA just days before the president leaves office

  • Trump’s acting secretary of defense told the head of the National Security Agency to install a Trump loyalist as the top lawyer at the agency by 6 pm on Saturday.
  • NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone did not honor Christopher Miller’s request by the deadline.  
  • Nakasone was not in favor of Ellis’s selection and is working to delay his placement. 
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Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller told the head of the National Security Agency to install a Trump loyalist as the top lawyer at the agency, The Washington Post reported.

Miller ordered that Michael Ellis be appointed as general counsel by 6 pm on Saturday, but NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone did not follow that order as of the deadline, according to CNN

The Post reported Ellis was tapped for the job back in November by Pentagon General Counsel Paul C. Ney Jr., but he still hasn’t taken the position and has to finish administrative procedures.

His selection came a shortly after Biden was projected to win the presidential election. Around the same time, nearly a dozen senior government officials were fired, forced to resign, or resigned in protest, including a political purge at the Defense Department by President Donald Trump.

Several sources told The Post that Nakasone was not in favor of Ellis’s selection to the role and wanted to delay his placement. 

The general counsel position at the NSA is not a political one but a civil servant role, which means it would be harder for the incoming Biden administration to fire him.

Sources told The Post that Nakasone and others are worried that the Trump administration is trying to plant political personnel in a civilian role, which could violate a long-standing policy.

National security legal experts were critical of the effort to install Ellis into the role just a few days before Trump leaves office.

In November, when Ellis’s nomination was first announced, Susan Hennessey, a former NSA attorney, said it “appears to be an attempt to improperly politicize an important career position.”

On Saturday, Hennessy said if Ellis is installed then Biden should remove him on the day he’s inaugurated. 

“At this point, no one should extend this selection process the benefit of the doubt. By all indications, the Trump admin is violating civil service rules and politicizing an apolitical role. If Ellis is installed tonight, Biden should remove him on Day One,” she said in a tweet.

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