This story is over 5 years old.

A former CIA operative is running for president to stop Donald Trump

The 40-year old former spy has never held elected office, but he may help Republicans keep a longtime red state from going with Clinton.
Photo via Facebook/Evan McMullin

Anti-Trump Republicans have proved, yet again, that they are nothing if not determined. Republican strategists are putting forth an independent presidential candidate, Evan McMullin, in a last-ditch effort to stop the GOP nominee.

"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," McMullin told ABC News in a statement. "I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President."


McMullin is not your typical presidential candidate. The 40-year old has never held elected office and has served most recently as the Republican policy director for the House of Representatives, after working 11 years as a CIA operative. In 1997, McMullin was a deckhand on a commercial fishing vessel, which he described on his LinkedIn page as "I mostly just did my best not to fall in as we sailed the Alaskan seas."

One of the people involved in running McMullin's campaign is Rick Wilson, Buzzfeed reported. Wilson is a longtime Republican strategist and has been an early and vocal critic of Trump this year. He made headlines in January when he called Trump voters "childless single men who masturbate to anime," on MSNBC. Wilson did not immediately respond to VICE News' request for comment.

McMullin is virtually unknown outside of wonkish Republican policy circles (he had just 135 followers on Twitter when Buzzfeed first reported the news Monday morning). But he does have experience doing the very thing Trump has spent much of his campaign railing against — before joining the CIA, McMullin worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to vet and resettle refugees from the Middle East and Africa, according to his LinkedIn page.

Unsurprisingly, McMullin has been a vocal critic of the GOP nominee.

Last week, McMullin called Trump's feud with the family of a fallen soldier Humayun Khan, who was Muslim, "profoundly despicable" on Facebook. Interspersed with pictures of his family and wildlife, much of McMullin's Facebook timeline is filled with posts calling out Trump for his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments.


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

McMullin's chances of becoming president are slim at best. The deadline for getting a third-party candidate on the ballot has already passed in the most of the important general election states, including Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas. As of Monday morning, McMilland has not filed an official campaign report with the Federal Election Commission yet, although he has set up a bare-bones campaign website.

McMullin's campaign could signal an effort by Republicans to stop Clinton from taking Utah in November. McMullin is a Utah native, a graduate of Brigham Young University, and a Mormon. Trump is polling badly in the Mormon-dominated state and many Republicans fear that they could lose a longtime stronghold altogether.

Utah is also home to Mitt Romney, one of Trump's biggest critics among establishment Republicans, whose support would add significant weight to McMullin's campaign. The group Better for America, involved in coordinating McMullin's presidential campaign, has been funded in part by Republican donor John Kingston who has also fundraised for Romney, according to ABC News. A spokesperson for Romney did not immediately respond when asked if he was planning on endorsing McMullin.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: