GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer placed on administrative leave: reports

Michael Ellis, the GOP operative who was installed as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency (NSA) in the waning days of the Trump administration, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, according to multiple reports.

An official told The Washington Post that NSA Director Paul Nakasone placed Ellis on leave pending an investigation by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) into the circumstances of his selection.

CBS News first reported Ellis being placed on administrative leave because he’s the subject of an investigation, citing a source familiar with events. The source also told the news outlet that there was a separate allegation Ellis may have mishandled classified information.

An NSA official told The Hill that the agency doesn’t comment on personnel matters.

A spokesperson for the OIG neither confirmed nor denied that Ellis is the subject of an investigation. 

Ellis, who was a former chief of staff for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) before joining the White House, was installed this week, reportedly following an order from then-acting Defense Christopher Miller. He was appointed in November but hadn’t began in his post due to administrative procedures.

According to the Post, Ellis officially began at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

His appointment quickly drew criticism form House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who asked Miller to halt plans to install him.

“The attempt to install an unqualified Trump loyalist as NSA General Counsel just 72 hours prior to the start of a new Administration is highly irregular and highly suspect. This placement should not move forward,” Pelosi tweeted on Monday.

Updated at 9:17 a.m.

Tags Christopher Miller Department of Defense Devin Nunes Michael Ellis Nancy Pelosi National Security Agency

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