National Security Agency general counsel Michael Ellis, who was installed by Trump officials in the final days of the administration, resigned from his post on Friday after being on administrative leave since the start of the Biden administration, according to The Washington Post.
“I have been on administrative leave for nearly three months without any explanation or updates, and there is no sign that NSA will attempt to solve the issue. I therefore resign my position, effective immediately,” Ellis wrote to NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone in a letter published Saturday by the Post. Fox News first reported Ellis’ resignation.
Ellis said in his letter that Nakasone had declined to meet with him to “resolve any concerns you might have related to my selection” as general counsel, adding that his lawyer had also requested “information so I could help address any misunderstandings or concerns.”
The NSA declined to comment to CNN on Ellis’ resignation.
Ellis had been put on administrative leave the day President Joe Biden took office — just a day after he started as the NSA’s top lawyer — because his appointment had become the subject of a Department of Defense inspector general investigation, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN at the time.
The last-minute installation of Ellis, a former Republican operative, drew considerable scrutiny because the role of general counsel at the country’s largest intelligence agency is a civil service position, not a political role, meaning it could have been difficult for the Biden administration to remove Ellis.
The strategy of trying to install political loyalists into career positions is known as “burrowing” in the government.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had called for a probe into his selection in January, called Ellis’ appointment “highly suspect” and argued it represented a “disturbing disregard” for the country’s national security.
Before joining the Trump administration, Ellis served as the head counsel to California Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican who was one of Trump’s staunchest supporters. He then became a lawyer with the National Security Council, 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.