News & Politics

Former CIA Op Evan McMullin to Launch Independent Presidential Bid

Evan McMullin, a Central Intelligence Agency veteran and chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, will run for president as a third party conservative candidate, the group Better for America announced today. McMullin is expected to file today in an effort that is expected to be an extreme upward climb in the three months that are left until the general election.

McMullin told ABC News exclusively:

“In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President.”

The group says prominent Republicans will back McMullin, who has some well-known GOP operatives working behind the effort, including Republican consultant Rick Wilson and Florida-based pollster and operative Joel Searby. Better for America has been funded in part by John Kingston, a Boston-based conservative donor who bundled for Mitt Romney.

Ballot Access News reports that Better for America has only petitioned in two states so far:

New Mexico rejected its petition saying it lacked 145 valid signatures; the Arkansas petition is still being checked. If Better for America has the resources to complete petition drives very quickly, it could still petition for McMullin in approximately one-third of the states.

According to MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough on Twitter, McMullin has the backing of big-money donors in the Republican Party.

The ABC report continues:

McMullin was born in Provo, Utah, and earned a bachelor’s degree in international law and diplomacy from Brigham Young University and a master’s of business administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

McMullin served as a Mormon missionary in Brazil and volunteer refugee resettlement officer in Amman, Jordan, on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was in training at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He completed his training and volunteered for overseas service in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, spearheading counterterrorism and intelligence operations in some of the most dangerous nations, according to the group.

McMullin went to work for Goldman Sachs in the San Francisco Bay Area after he left the CIA in 2011 and in 2013 became a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

McMullin, a vocal critic of Trump,  is the second conservative to announce an independent bid to challenge the Republican nominee, who is currently lagging behind Hillary Clinton in the polls. National Review writer and Iraq War vet David French briefly flirted with a run earlier this summer before he ruled it out in early June.

Via The Hill:

Trump has continued to catch flak during his campaign, most recently for feuding with the parents of a slain American Muslim soldier and initially declining to back Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in their primaries.

“As Donald Trump continues attacking Muslims and as a former CIA officer, I’d like all Americans to know the truth: American and other Muslims have played a central role in virtually every counterterrorism win we’ve had since 9/11,” McMullin wrote on Facebook last week.

“They are an indispensable asset in this fight. Attacking them as a group makes America weaker, not stronger,” he added.

McMullin referred to Trump as an “authoritarian” on Twitter while Trump was delivering his RNC speech.

In May, he called on Trump to release his tax returns:

In a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in February 2016, McMullin criticized President Barack Obama for leaving Iraq, saying that the president left a “power vacuum” that allowed ISIS and other terrorist groups to rise in the Middle East:

Here is McMullin giving a “Ted Talk” on genocide: “Why Saying ‘Never Again’ to Genocide is Not Enough”: