Ellis, who served as an attorney for the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, was selected for the post by the Pentagon General Counsel in November. He was an attorney for the National Security Council and most recently its chief secret service director.
He was also one of two White House staff members who assisted Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), One of President Donald Trump’s fiercest allies on Capitol Hill, with access to high-ranking intelligence reports in 2017.
His election as General Counsel of the NSA sparked an outcry from national security experts and Congressional Democrats who viewed it as an attempt to “dig” or convert a political candidate to the country’s largest spy agency. Biden will be sworn into office on Wednesday.
Shortly after the announcement, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) And Jack Reed (DR.I.), who will chair the Senate Committee on Intelligence and Forces this week, asked the Pentagon Inspector General to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ellis’ selection.
Its installation was refused by Nakasone, who hoped to delay it as long as possible, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity
Ellis’ installment is a new headache for the incoming Biden administration. While the new administration could begin with the removal of Ellis on day one, it is unlikely to be able to be replaced immediately.
As General Counsel, Ellis will serve as a senior senior executive at the NSA.
But the regulations surrounding the electronic espionage agency move him several rungs down the chain of command.