- The Trump-appointed adviser to the National Security Agency has been released on administrative leave one day after taking office due to an investigation by the inspector general at the Department of Defense, CNN reported.
- Michael Ellis’ installation just before President Joe Biden took office has drawn criticism that the Trump administration is trying to bury a loyal citizen.
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Michael Ellis, a general adviser to the National Security Agency who was appointed just a day before President Joe Biden took office, is now on administrative leave as the Secretary of Defense̵
Last week, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller told the NSA chief to appoint Ellis as chief adviser by 6 p.m. on Saturday. The next day, the agency said it was moving forward with Ellis’ installation and announced that it would begin the day before Biden was sworn in.
“Mr Ellis accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon. The NSA is moving forward with its work,” an NSA official told Insider on Sunday.
National security legal experts were critical of efforts to bury Ellis in the role just days before the new administration took office.
The position of NSA general adviser is not political, but the role of a civil servant, which means that it will be more difficult for the future Biden administration to dismiss him. However, the new president can easily appoint him to a less important job.
Read more: Biden’s inauguration is unlike any before. The photos show how his ceremony is compared to the ceremony of previous presidents.
House President Nancy Pelosi was also critical of the move, and on Monday sent a letter to Miller asking him to “immediately stop” Ellis’ installation.
“The circumstances and timing – in the immediate aftermath of President Trump’s defeat in the election – of Mr Ellis’ election and this eleven-hour effort to push this place through the administration’s last three days are highly suspicious,” Pelosi wrote.
A DoD spokesman told Insider on Wednesday that they were not commenting on open investigations, and an NSA spokesman said they were not commenting on personnel issues.
Ellis’ appointment came shortly after President-elect Joe Biden was expected to win the 2020 election in November. That same month, the Washington Post reported that Democratic Sensor Mark Warner and Jack Reid had asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate Ellis’ appointment on the grounds of “inappropriate political influence.”
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“The combination of time, the candidate’s relative lack of experience, the qualifications of the other finalists, and press releases about the White House’s participation create the impression that political influence or considerations may have played an illegal role in the meritorious civil service selection process.” , Warner and Reed wrote in a letter in November, CNN reported.
Ellis’ election also came when nearly a dozen senior government officials were fired, forced to resign or resigned in protest, and outgoing President Donald Trump carried out a political purge at the Department of Defense.
Ellis was a chief adviser to Representative Devin Nunes, who is loyal to Trump. Concerns over its installation are linked to Nunes’ help with access to intelligence documents in 2017, which helped Trump in a political attack on Democrats, the Post reported.