Acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller ordered the director of the National Security Agency to install a Trump loyalist as the agency’s top lawyer by this weekend, The Washington Post reports. Multiple sources cited in the report said NSA director Paul Nakasone was given a deadline of 6 p.m. on Saturday to make White House attorney Michael Ellis the agency’s senior lawyer. Ellis reportedly responded to inquiries by simply saying, “I don’t talk to the press, thank you” and hanging up. As of Saturday evening, Nakasone, who is said to have fought the move, had reportedly not given in to the demand. As The Daily Beast reported in November, Ellis’ installation at the agency triggered alarm bells among Democrats when he was first tapped by Pentagon General Counsel Paul C. Ney Jr. last fall, with many seeing it as an obvious maneuver by Trump to install loyalists within the agency in his final days in office.
“I was told there was pressure on Ney, that the White House was leaning heavily on him,” a former senior intelligence official told The Daily Beast at the time. If Ellis were to take over the NSA general counsel position, which has civil service protections, he could not be fired by the Biden administration absent misconduct.