Evan McMullin is a former CIA agent and currently the Chief Policy Director for the House Republican Conference. He is also a third-party candidate for the White House, hoping to beat Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
BuzzFeed and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough reported that he planned on launching a third-party presidential bid as an independent. He has made his stance against Trump clear and has also been critical of the Obama Administration‘s foreign policy.
McMullin’s surprising strength in the polls in his native Utah mean that he has a strong chance of becoming the first third-party candidate to win a state since 1968, when George Wallace won five states.
In the eight of the 11 states where he made the ballot, he listed “Nathan Johnson” as his vice presidential nominee, but he told Politico that the name is just a “placeholder.” Election officials told Politico that he can only change the name of his running mate in one of the nine states. On October 10, McMullin officially named Mindy Finn his running mate.
The 40-year-old has changed his Twitter profile photo to a campaign logo. “Standing up to run for president because it’s never too late to do the right thing,” he added to his bio. He also launched a campaign site.
Here’s a look at McMullin’s life and career.
1. Despite His Long Public Service Record, He’s Never Held Elective Office
As Scarborough pointed out on Twitter, McMullin has never held elective office, even though he has been working in the government since 1999. According to his LinkedIn page, McMullin joined the CIA as an operations officer in 1999 and stared at the agency until 2010. He “managed clandestine operations related to counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, energy, political stability, and counterintelligence, while serving mostly in hostile environments,” McMullin wrote on his page.
Aside from a three-year stint as an investment banking associate at Goldman Sachs, McMullin has been in government since joining the CIA. In 2013, he became a senior adviser to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In 2015, he joined the Republican Conference as its Chief Policy Director. His job includes managing their domestic and foreign policy initiatives, focusing on foreign affairs, national security, technology, health care and other issues.
2. He Called Donald Trump an ‘Authoritarian’ During Trump’s RNC Speech
“Authoritarians like @realDonaldTrump use promises of law & order to justify infringing on civil rights as they consolidate control by force,” McMullin wrote.
In May, McMullin called on Trump to release his tax returns.
Earlier that same month, he called on more Republicans to oppose Trump, using the hashtag #NeverTrump.
McMullin’s Trump attacks haven’t been limited to Twitter. He also criticized Trump for attacking Muslims in a Facebook post. He wrote:
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. They are an indispensable asset in this fight. Attacking them as a group makes America weaker, not stronger.
McMullin recently climbed significantly in a poll in his home state of Utah. The poll showed Trump tied with Clinton at 26 percent, with McMcullin receiving 22 percent support.
McMullin’s surge in Utah polls has gained so much notice that a white nationalist named William Johnson is doing robocalls in support of Donald Trump, The Daily Beast reported. In the calls, Johnson claims that McMullin’s parents are lesbians, that is a closet homosexual and supports gay marriage. These claims are all untrue, although McMullin said he respects the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision to legalize gay marriage.
McMullin issued a series of tweets in response to the robocalls.
3. His Highest-Profile Speech Is a TEDx Talk on Genocide in April
As Buzzfeed points out, McMullin’s public profile is almost nonexistent. His highest-profile speech came at London Business School in April, when he discussed genocide and his travels to Syria in the past. The point of the speech, which you can see above, is that saying “never again” isn’t enough to stop genocide.
Whoever the next president is, he or she will have to deal with the growing refugee crisis, as people escape wars in the Middle East and Africa. One of the first jobs McMullin lists on his LinkedIn page is a volunteer position as Refugee Resettlement Officer or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He worked in Jordan, where he “vetted and processed UN-recognized refugees from the Middle East and Africa for resettlement to third countries.”
McMullin is also a graduate of Brigham Young University, where he received a BA in International Law & Diplomacy. He also has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. He also lists Portuguese as one of the languages he speaks.
“It is amazing what can be done when you simply choose to set fear aside and do whatever it is that you would like to do,” he told BYU’s alumni magazine. “There is often value in taking well-calculated risks, and if you do not take them, you are probably missing out on a lot of life’s opportunities.”
As a BYU graduate and Utah native, McMullin hopes he can capitalize on his ties to Utah. Sources told Buzzfeed that he hopes to be aggressive in the Beehive State. He was also a Mormon missionary in Brazil, notes ABC News.
4. In His ‘Letter to America,’ He Calls Clinton a ‘Corrupt Career Politician’ & Calls Trump’s Infatuation with Putin an ‘Anathema to American Values’
McMullin has posted a “Letter to America” on his website, in which he criticizes both major party candidates. “Millions of Americans are not being represented by either of these candidates; those of us who care about the strength of the military and intelligence services find little to embrace in either Trump or Clinton,” McMullin wrote.
When it comes to Clinton, McMullin calls her “a corrupt career politician who has recklessly handled classified information in an attempt to avoid accountability and put American lives at risk including those of my former colleagues.”
McMullin writes that Trump cannot unite the Republican party or the country.
Donald Trump appeals to the worst fears of Americans at a time we need unity, not division. Republicans are deeply divided by a man who is perilously close to gaining the most powerful position in the world, and many rightly see him as a real threat to our Republic. Given his obvious personal instability, putting him in command of our military and nuclear arsenal would be deeply irresponsible. His infatuation with strongmen and demagogues like Vladimir Putin is anathema to America values. We cannot and must not elect him.
5. McMullin Thinks America Needs to Show Strength Around the World & Criticized Obama for Leaving Iraq
In a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in February 2016, McMullin was critical of President Obama’s foreign policy, suggesting that the president left a “power vacuum” that allowed groups like ISIS to rise in the Middle East.
“Free markets and liberal democracies don’t just happen on their own; they require the support and leadership of powerful nations… It is our responsibility to be a force for good in the world,” McMullin said. He also highlighted the U.S.’ important role in making sure that there have not been world wars since World War II.
That seems in stark contrast to Trump, who suggested in a New York Times interview that the U.S. wouldn’t fulfill its duty to protect other NATO members if the members who needed help hadn’t met all of their responsibilities. McMullin sent the following statement 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. 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.”
After the first presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, McMullin wrote in a USA Today op-ed that he will “save you from Trump and Clinton.”
Both Clinton and Trump promote some of the worst instincts in American political life, and they embody the kind of evils that we decry in other nations which lag behind ours in almost every way by decades or more. Doing what they can to avoid scrutiny of their hollow ideas, both candidates hide from the American media and the people, appearing only in carefully controlled settings and with limited interaction. At the debate, Clinton continued to avoid accountability and Trump avoided even basic civility. He presented ideas that were simply wrong, and while she took the attack to him, she proposed the same kind of top-down, central-government “solutions” we’ve seen too many times in the past.