Michael Ellis, a deputy to White House lawyer John Eisenberg, has been named senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council. Ellis started in the role on Monday, according to a senior administration official and a former national security official.
Ellis, a White House lawyer and former counsel to the House Intelligence Committee under Devin Nunes, has left the counsel’s office so won’t be dual-hatted with his new job.
The office of the director for intelligence serves as the day to day connective tissue between the intelligence community and the White House. This office receives sensitive information coming in from the intelligence agencies, especially if it is in hard copy form. This office also coordinates covert action activities between the White House and the intelligence community, and it’s where the NSC server is housed that stores the most sensitive classified information.
Ellis has been in the White House counsel’s office since 2017, and was reportedly one of the White House officials who showed Nunes intelligence reports that led to the congressman’s probe into surveillance of the Trump campaign team.
The naming of Ellis is the latest instance of President Donald Trump elevating a trusted loyalist to control the intelligence community.