N.S.A. Installs Trump Loyalist as Prime Lawyer Days Earlier than Biden Takes Workplace
At the Pentagon, Mr. Miller was furious that agency leadership had slowed Mr. Ellis’ installment payments for months despite going through the standard hiring process and being selected for the position, a senior U.S. official said. So, Mr. Miller ordered the agency to swear in Mr. Ellis, a move the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
In a statement, the Pentagon defended Mr. Ellis’ hiring, saying he had been duly selected by the Department of Defense General Counsel. “To be clear, the interest of Congress or the media in any particular recruitment policy is not justified under the merit system in order to delay the placement of a selected qualified person in a position,” the statement said.
Mr. Ellis is seen as a shrewd lawyer. But the urge to get him into a permanent government job puzzled some. According to former officials, he is likely to enter the General Counsel’s office under great suspicion and face an uphill battle to gain General Nakasone’s trust.
Mr. Ellis will serve on the Senior Executive Service, a public service position that offers strong protections against layoffs. However, officials can easily be transferred to the Department of Defense so he can get a legal position elsewhere in the sprawling department – for example, overseeing environmental compliance on a remote military base.
While on the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Ellis was a trusted advisor to Rep. Devin Nunes, Republican of California. Mr. Ellis has served in various roles in the Trump administration, including serving as an attorney for the National Security Council and then as senior intelligence director for the White House.
At the White House, Mr. Ellis overturned a career official’s decision to open Mr. Bolton’s book for publication despite having no formal training in classifying national security information. The Justice Department, under pressure from President Trump, sued Mr Bolton to reclaim his profits from the book.
A judge overseeing the case issued a ruling Thursday that makes it very likely that Mr Bolton’s attorney Charles J. Cooper can question White House officials like Mr Ellis about whether the classification decisions were made in bad faith were. Should Mr. Ellis serve as General Counsel at least temporarily, he may be able to withhold this testimony.