“Mr. Ellis accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon. NSA is moving forward with his employment,” an NSA spokesperson said in a statement. Ellis will start in his new role on Tuesday, according to a source familiar.
“The General Counsel of the Department of Defense is the sole selection authority for the position of General Counsel of the National Security Agency – as well as all other senior career DoD General Counsel positions,” according to a statement from the Department of Defense. “The Director of the NSA does not select or approve of candidates for the position of the NSA General Counsel.”
The Pentagon declined to comment Saturday when news of the deadline broke.
Within days of Ellis being picked for the job in November, which came shortly after President Donald Trump fired then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper via Twitter, Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Jack Reed requested an investigation from the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, saying in a letter, “The combination of timing, comparative lack of experience of the candidate, the reported qualifications of the other finalists, and press accounts of White House involvement create a perception that political influence or considerations may have played an undue role in a merit-based civil service selection process.”
Before joining the Trump administration, Ellis served as the head counsel to California Rep. Devin Nunes, one of Trump’s staunchest supporters. Ellis then became a lawyer with the NSC, refusing to testify as part of the House’s 2019 impeachment inquiry. In March 2020, Ellis became the senior director for intelligence on the NSC, joining other Trump loyalists in key intelligence positions.