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Photo via Evan_McMullin/Twitter Remix by Jason Reed

Ex-CIA agent to challenge Trump

Like Trump, Evan McMullin has never held elected office. Unlike Trump, McMullin worked at the CIA for a decade.


Andrew Couts


Posted on Aug 8, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 7:41 am CDT

The Never Trump movement may have one more trick up its sleeve. 

Evan McMullin, a former CIA counterterrorism agent and chief policy director for the House Republican conference, will launch a presidential bid to challenge Republican nominee Donald Trump.

News of McMullin’s White House bid was first reported by BuzzFeed News after MSNBC host Joe Scarborough revealed Monday morning that another third-party candidate planned to enter the 2016 election. Better for America, the group orchestrating McMullin’s candidacy, confirmed McMullin’s entrance into the race to ABC News

“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,” McMullin told ABC News in a statement. “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.”

Rick Wilson, a GOP strategist and vicious critic of Trump, is reportedly working on McMullin’s campaign. 

McMullin did not immediately respond to our request for comment. Wilson declined to comment on McMullin’s candidacy at this time.

Like Trump, McMullin has never held public office. A graduate of Brigham Young University, McMullin worked as a Mormon missionary in Brazil and a volunteer serving refugees in Jordan under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. According to Better for America, he trained to become a CIA agent following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and served in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia performing counterterrorism work.

McMullin worked for Goldman Sachs from 2011 until becoming a policy advisor to House Republicans in 2013. 

McMullin has repeatedly criticized Trump. During the Republican nominee’s convention speech last month, McMullin called Trump in a tweet an “authoritarian” and criticized his “law and order” proclamations as disregarding civil liberties.

In an Aug. 2 Facebook post, McMullin rebuked Trump’s attacks on Muslims as counterproductive to anti-terrorism efforts.

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

News of McMullin’s candidacy comes at a particularly vulnerable moment for Trump, who has steadily fallen in the polls over the past two weeks. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, now holds a 6.5 percent lead over Trump in a four-way race that includes Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, according to the Real Clear Politics average. FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton an 83.4 percent chance of winning the presidency, as of Monday morning.

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*First Published: Aug 8, 2016, 9:50 am CDT