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Biden rehires national security staffer expelled under Trump

A career member of the National Security Council staff under President Donald J. Trump, who was removed from his post after refusing to join an effort to use the powers of the federal government to silence one of the main critics of Mr. Trump, was rehired for the job by President Biden, two people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

Staffer Ellen Knight had told a federal judge in 2020 that senior White House lawyers pressured her to falsely claim that a book by the former national security adviser of Mr. Trump, John R. Bolton, contained classified information to prevent its contents from becoming public.

Ms Knight, a government classification expert, told the judge that after refusing to comply, she was reassigned to the National Archives and Records Administration despite earlier expectations that she would move to a permanent post at the National Security Council .

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council confirmed that Ms Knight had been rehired.

“Ellen Knight is a dedicated career public servant,” spokeswoman Emily Horne said. “We are grateful that she returns to the National Security Council as Senior Director of Records Management, Access and Information Security, and benefits from her extensive experience in the management of classified information. “

Scores of federal officials, ranging from the FBI director to climate scientists, were fired or reassigned during Mr. Trump’s presidency, as part of efforts to punish or silence them, they claimed. Few, especially those in career positions like Ms. Knight, have been reinstated.

Peter Strzok, the FBI’s senior agent investigating Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia and Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account, is suing the feds to get his FBI job back as counterintelligence investigator. At the time of Mr Strzok’s dismissal, Trump administration officials claimed he was fired because he sent text messages showing political bias.

Ms. Knight’s revelation about how the Trump White House handled Mr. Bolton’s book came to light in a lengthy letter sent in September 2020 to the judge who was overseeing a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department to try to collect the profits from Mr. Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened.”

His letter supported claims by Mr. Bolton’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, that a criminal investigation into Mr. Bolton and the lawsuit against him by the Justice Department had been politically motivated. Ultimately, his disclosure helped Biden’s Justice Department drop the two cases against Mr. Bolton.

The effort to use Mr. Trump’s classification powers to silence Mr. Bolton had occurred during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, Ms. Knight had told the federal judge. Shortly before the publication of Mr Bolton’s book – which described Mr Trump as corrupt and incompetent – Ms Knight said White House lawyers had pressured her to reverse her decision that the manuscript of Mr. Bolton’s book did not contain any classified information. and could be published.

Among those Ms Knight said lobbied her were the National Security Council’s top lawyer, John Eisenberg, and Deputy White House Counsel, Patrick Philbin, who is now a partner at the law firm. lawyers Ellis George Cipollone O’Brien Annaguey LLP.

Mr Bolton welcomed the decision in a written statement.

“Trump’s disgraceful dismissal of Ms. Knight is another stain on her presidency,” Bolton said. “Those in the NSC and the White House Counsel’s Office who attempted to intimidate Ms. Knight and then carried out Trump’s personal vendetta should be held accountable.”


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