Key players in GOP’s anti-Trump movement are preparing to launch an independent presidential campaign for Evan McMullin — a CIA veteran and the chief policy director of the House Republican conference — sources close to the effort told BuzzFeed News.
Veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson, a Florida-based media consultant and outspoken Trump critic, is expected to be involved in McMullin’s campaign. Sources said Wilson was in Washington on Sunday meeting with members of McMullin’s prospective campaign — which includes some who were involved in a group called Better for America, which has been pushing an independent presidential bid.
McMullin did not immediately respond to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News. He would make for an unlikely presidential candidate. He has never held elective office before and has spent most of his career as a CIA officer, according to his LinkedIn page. Young and unmarried, McMullin received an MBA at Wharton in 2011, and after a stint at Goldman Sachs, went to work as a policy wonk on Capitol Hill.
Unlike National Review writer David French, another conservative courted by anti-Trump Republicans to launch a long-shot third-party bid, McMullin has virtually no public profile. He doesn’t appear regularly on television, and has just 135 followers on Twitter. His most high-profile recent appearance seems to have been a TEDx talk about genocide he gave at London Business School in April.
Even with his small audience, McMullin has been a vocal critic of Trump on social media. On the night of Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, he tweeted that Trump was an “authoritarian” who was seeking to infringe on civil rights.
And earlier this month, he wrote a Facebook post sharply criticizing Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims and terrorism:
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.
Sources said McMullin was planning to file his paperwork Monday at around noon. Apart from his low profile, his candidacy will face other substantial hurdles in gaining traction — especially with ballot access and fundraising. But people close to the effort suggested McMullin would have the backing of serious Republican donors and fundraisers.
They also pointed to his ties to Utah, a state where polls show Trump badly underperforming with the Mormon-heavy electorate. McMullin, an alum of Brigham Young University, plans to aggressively contest the state.
McKay Coppins, BuzzFeed News | Photo: tedxlondonbusinessschool.com
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