Democrats are now attempting to purge a highly qualified individual from a career civil service position at the Pentagon’s National Security Agency due to his previous work with Republicans, according to two former Trump administration officials.
Michael Ellis, who served as the former senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council during the Trump Presidency, was put on administrative leave from his new position as the general counsel at the National Security Agency, just after President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
Ellis, a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, Yale Law School graduate, and Jeopardy! winner, first applied for the new position in Jan. 2020 and went through an extensive interview process reviewed by a panel of non-partisan civil servants.
In November Ellis was selected for the position by Pail Ney, the Pentagon’s general counsel who started at the department during George W. Bush presidency as the Navy’s principal deputy general counsel.
He started his new position on Tuesday, January 19.
Recent news reports revealed that the next day, Inauguration Day, NSA Director Army Gen. Paul Nakasone put Ellis on administrative leave. An investigation by the Department of Defense inspector general into the details of his hiring process.
Democrat lawmakers have endlessly opposed Ellis from being appointed from the Trump administration to a non-partisan civil service position in the government. Commonly referred to as “burrowing in.”
In November, days after Ellis was selected for the position, Democrat Sens. Mark Warner (VA) and Jack Reed (RI) requested the Pentagon inspector general investigate his hiring, according to CNN.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote a letter to former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller days before President Biden’s inauguration asking him to “cease plans to improperly install” Ellis at the NSA.
House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) went on CBS News’s Face the Nation the same day to say that the Trump administration was attempting to “embed people in the civil servants who are political and partisan actors who don’t belong there.”
Officials have also pointed out that Democrat friendly media has targeted Ellis, noting a January 13 article by Lawfare’s executive editor, Susan Hennessee, on how to get rid of Ellis.
According to CNN and other establishment media reports, Democrats’ are highly concerned that Ellis supposedly overruled career officials when reviewing former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book for classified information. He was reportedly in the room when ex-NSC staffer Alexander Vindman stated his concerns about former President Donald Trump’s phone call to the Ukrainian president.
However those who know Ellis, say that he is highly-qualified for the position and Democrats are attempting to purge him purely for political reasons. Democrats continue to call for “unity” while testing the loyalty of civil servants.
One of the two former officials said:
Michael is an outstanding guy and he’s known for being a straight shooter. My understanding is that the [hiring]process worked the way it was supposed to, that this process has been ongoing since early 2020, and Michael interviewed with a panel of career lawyers who found that he was completely qualified for the job.
The second former official said that the only unusual thing was that when Ellis was selected for the job, the NSA took their time putting him in place.
“Interest from the media or from Pelosi or Schiff complaining is not a valid reason to not give somebody a career position,” the second former official said.
“It’s ironic that they claim to have concerns about the politicization when them putting [Ellis] on blast is entirely antithetical to the merit system principle that they purport to uphold,” the second former official said.
“The double standard and hypocrisy is truly outstanding. I’ve heard from people who are moderates who have come out and said, ‘This is insane, I can’t believe they’re doing this to him.”
Ellis joined the Trump administration in March 2017, as an assistant to the president and the NSC’s deputy legal adviser.
Before that, he had served as the general counsel on the House intelligence committee under chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Ellis had worked on the committee since 2015, and before that had worked as counsel for the committee’s previous chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) from 2013 to 2015.
The two former officials said Ellis had a good relationship with Adam Schiff for years as they worked closely on the intelligence committee.
“It’s interesting that Adam Schiff comes out full-on on Michael Ellis when Michael was always good to Schiff,” the first former official said.
“That’s one aspect of this that’s particularly unfortunate,” the second former official said. “He’s kicking a former staffer who he knows is well-qualified and who he worked collaboratively with.“
“This vendetta that Schiff and Pelosi have for Nunes — I disagree with it, but I get it. But this is really kicking down at somebody’s who is a very capable and dedicated professional and has a family to provide for,” the former official added.
“It just shows the contrast of Biden talking about Kumbaya and everybody getting along and unity [and]what the left will do literally within hours of them getting power.”