David Evan McMullin
April 2, 1976
Provo, Utah, U.S.
|Education||Brigham Young University (BA)|
University of Pennsylvania
|Political party||Independent (2016–present)|
Republican (before 2016)
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||Central Intelligence Agency|
|Years of service||2001–2010|
|Unit||National Clandestine Service|
|Battles/wars||Global War on Terrorism|
David Evan McMullin (born April 2, 1976) is an American political activist and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations officer who ran as an independent during the 2016 United States presidential election.
McMullin was an operations officer of the CIA from 2001 to 2010. He then worked for about a year and a half as an investment banker after receiving an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. He was a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs from 2013 to 2015 and served as a chief policy director for the House Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 2015 through July 2016.
In August 2016, McMullin launched a presidential campaign in the 2016 election for President of the United States, as an independent candidate backed by the organization Better for America. Receiving support from some members of the "Never Trump" movement, polling taken late in the campaign showed him ahead of major party nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in his home state of Utah. In the end, McMullin received 21.5% in Utah, taking third place in that state behind Trump and Clinton. Nationally, he received 0.53% of the popular vote.
Following his defeat, McMullin has emerged as a vocal critic of the Trump administration. He endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. He has been involved in early discussions about forming a new center-right political party, as of February 2021.
Early life and education
McMullin was born in Provo, Utah, the oldest of four children of David McMullin and Lanie Bullard. At a young age, his family moved to a rural area outside Seattle, Washington, where his father worked as a computer scientist and his mother sold bulk foods to neighbors from the family's garage. After graduating in 1994 from Auburn Senior High School, McMullin spent two years in Brazil as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon returning, he spent a summer working on an Alaskan fishing vessel.
In 1997, McMullin began attending Brigham Young University; every year he was in college he did a summer internship with the CIA. He spent a year living in Israel and Jordan and volunteered as a refugee resettlement officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2001, McMullin graduated with a Bachelor's degree in International Law and Diplomacy and began formal training with the CIA to become an operations officer.
Soon after McMullin joined the CIA, the September 11 attacks occurred, leading to an accelerated training and deployment. He spent the next decade working overseas on counterterrorism and intelligence operations as an operations officer with the National Clandestine Service in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. He was first deployed in 2003 and left the agency in 2010.
While the details of his missions remain classified, former CIA officers who worked with McMullin were complimentary of his work, noting his talent for recruiting members of extremist organizations through building trust and willingness to engage in human intelligence outside the confines of the embassy. Some of his missions included information-gathering for efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and collaborating with British intelligence agencies. Near the end of his CIA career, he worked undercover in Iraq. He has stated that his work involved meeting with business and government leaders, as well as collecting information from terrorist operatives.
After leaving the CIA and graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, McMullin began working for the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs, and he remained at the company about a year and a half. In 2012, he volunteered for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, which indirectly led to him being recruited by Republicans on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs looking for an adviser with counter-terrorism experience. In 2013, McMullin was an International Advisory Board member for the Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University.
In 2013, McMullin became a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for the 113th Congress. In 2015, McMullin became the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference under Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). It was from this position that he watched the 2016 Republican primaries, and when he began to speak out against Trump he was urged by some Republicans to stay out of the fray. McMullin resigned as chief policy director shortly before declaring his run for the presidency in August 2016.
In August 2016, McMullin launched a presidential campaign in the 2016 election for President of the United States, as an independent candidate backed by the organization Better for America. McMullin described himself as a conservative alternative to the two major political parties' candidates, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.
McMullin lost the election, receiving 734,737 votes nationwide (0.54%). His best performance came in his native Utah, where he received about 20% of the vote and came in third place behind Trump and Clinton. After the election, McMullin said that he would start a "new conservative movement" reaching out to "non-traditional conservative voters... who feel disaffected." It might, he said, form a new political party. On January 25, 2017, McMullin announced the formation of Stand Up Republic, a nonpartisan watchdog organization meant to ensure that the Trump administration upholds democracy and tells the truth.
2016 presidential campaign
2016 U.S. presidential election
On August 8, 2016, McMullin announced that he would run as a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential election as an independent. McMullin decided to run due to his belief that Republican nominee Donald Trump was unfit for the office and his strong opposition to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's liberalism. He had personally lobbied several Congresspeople to run under the Better for America banner, but when none would run and it was suggested to him that he should run himself, he decided to do so.
McMullin had the support of several anti-Trump Republican donors and his presidential bid was also backed by several former members of Better for America, a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to getting nationwide ballot access for an independent candidate for president in the 2016 election. McMullin's campaign was supported by some members of the "Never Trump" movement. Trump repeatedly attacked McMullin, referring to him as "McMuffin" and stating that "I never even heard of this guy before. Nobody did."
McMullin's late entrance into the race caused him to miss several state ballot deadlines, and ultimately he was only able to appear on the ballot in eleven states, with write-in eligibility in many other states. As such he did not appear on enough ballots to win the necessary Electoral College majority of 270 electoral votes. Instead McMullin hoped to deny a majority of the electoral vote to either of the two major party candidates. In such a scenario, under the terms of the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives would select the new president from the top-three electoral vote winners.
The same day that McMullin launched his independent bid, it was announced that Kahlil Byrd and Chris Ashby, Republican strategists with expertise in third-party ballot access, would form a super PAC called Stand Up America to support McMullin's campaign. Byrd is a former adviser to Better for America. The PAC would be used for TV and digital ads, live events, and grass-roots organizing, but would not sue for ballot access.
On October 6, McMullin named Mindy Finn as his running mate. Finn had previously worked for Twitter and as a digital strategist for the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Because Finn's selection came after the ballot paperwork deadlines, Finn did not appear on any of the state ballots. Instead, McMullin's friend's name, Nathan Johnson, was submitted as a placeholder.
McMullin's support surged in Utah in October after the release of a 2005 audio recording in which Donald Trump was heard bragging in lewd terms about making sexual advances on women. On October 19, an Emerson College poll showed McMullin leading the race in Utah by 4 points over Donald Trump and 7 points over Hillary Clinton. McMullin's popularity in Utah – and Trump's unpopularity – appears owing to an unusual shift of Mormons away from the Republican candidate. Had McMullin won Utah, it would have been the first time since 1968 that a non-major-party candidate won a state. His strong polling in Utah led Benjamin Morris, writing for FiveThirtyEight, to call him the "third-most likely person to be the next president of the United States" as of October 13.
Ultimately, McMullin came in third place in Utah, receiving 21.54% of the state's popular vote, behind both Donald Trump (who received 45.54% and the state's six electoral votes) and Hillary Clinton (who received 27.46%). McMullin also took third in Idaho with 6.7%. McMullin promised that, despite his defeat, the "fight would continue" for his new conservative movement.
After the 2016 campaign
After the 2016 campaign, McMullin has continued to be strongly critical of Trump and Putin. In a December 2016 op-ed, McMullin attacked Trump as a threat to American constitutional government, saying that the president-elect's actions were "consistent with the authoritarian playbook" and "undermined critical democratic norms including peaceful debate and transitions of power, commitment to truth, freedom from foreign interference and abstention from the use of executive power for political retribution."
In late January 2017, McMullin and his former running mate Finn announced the establishment of a 501(c)(4) organization, Stand Up Republic. The group focuses on "defense of democratic (small 'd') norms, constitutionalism and civic involvement." Speaking on so-called "alternative facts" McMullin said: "Undermining truth is a typical authoritarian tactic. It is incredibly dangerous ... We never thought we'd be talking about this in America." In a February 2017 op-ed, McMullin wrote that "President Trump's disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security." He called upon congressional Republicans to "recommit to patriotic prudence" and "demand that Attorney General Jeff Sessions appoint an independent special counsel to investigate Russia's assault on American democracy and Mr. Trump's possible collusion with the Kremlin.
When asked if there was any possibility of him running for Jason Chaffetz's seat in 2018, he answered: "It is likely that I will seek public office again. That might be in 2018 or it might be sometime down the road, perhaps very far down the road. I genuinely just don't know yet. I'm very focused on things that I think need to be done ASAP and Mindy Finn and I, with our team at the Stand Up Republic, advancing them now. It is possible that I will challenge Chaffetz or Senator Hatch, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision." In the end, he did not run for either office.
McMullin opposes abortion and identifies himself as pro-life. McMullin supports overturning Roe v. Wade. According to his campaign website, he opposes "a culture that subsidizes abortion on demand" and McMullin calls for action to reduce unintended pregnancies and promote adoption.
On same-sex marriage, McMullin said in 2016 that he believes in the "traditional marriage between a man and a woman" but he "respects" the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (which found that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry) and thinks it is "time to move on" from the issue. McMullin's mother is in a same-sex marriage, having married another woman after separating from his father, and McMullin has said that "As far as my mother's marriage is concerned, I believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage. It is an important part of my faith. My mother has a different view. That is OK. I love her very much."
Science and the environment
McMullin accepts the scientific consensus on climate change, saying: "I do believe that the climate is changing, and I do believe that human activity is contributing to it. If I were president, I would increase investment in technologies that can help us limit and decrease our carbon emissions."
On immigration, McMullin supports border security but not mass deportation.
On health care, McMullin supports the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that blocks health insurance companies from denying coverage or discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. However, he also stated that "we also need to do better than ObamaCare."
Foreign and national security policy
On the Syrian Civil War, McMullin described himself as a "vocal advocate for international action that would stop Assad's slaughter of innocent Syrians, and eventually set the stage for a negotiated departure from the country." McMullin also has said: "We should have done more to support the moderate Syrian opposition, and we still need to do that. They haven't received sufficient support or training, and we know how to do that very well." McMullin supports imposing a no-fly zone over Syria "to stop the aerial bombardment of Syrian population centers."
McMullin has harshly criticized the international nuclear agreement with Iran. He stated: "We've got to certainly enforce the deal as it is, but I believe in strengthening sanctions on Iran to force them to make further concessions. I also believe in putting the military option clearly back on the table if Iran decides to not keep its end of the deal and if it ultimately decides to pursue nuclear weapons."
McMullin told ABC News that he believed Donald Trump's public comments were frustrating U.S. counterterrorism efforts. "What he doesn't realize is that we actually depend on Muslims to do counterterrorism, to wage war against terrorists." Trump's remarks concerning Muslims "decreases their willingness to work with us, with other Muslims, and that impedes our ability to destroy ISIS." McMullin also criticized Trump's "allegiance to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin" and accused Putin of engaging in a campaign to destabilize European and North American countries "through fomenting discord between different racial groups, different ethnic groups, and different religious groups."
In 2014, McMullin helped to bring Caesar, a defected Syrian military photographer who leaked 55,000 images depicting abuses by the regime (which formed the basis for the 2014 Syrian detainee report), to speak before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to The Christian Science Monitor. McMullin clashed with State Department officials he suspected were holding up the hearing. McMullin claimed that State Department officials wanted to have a closed hearing.
He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
McMullin has never been married.
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- @EvanMcMullin (August 28, 2020). "America is a journey to a more perfect realization of our founding ideals. We now face a choice between the road to freedom and the road to tyranny. Tonight at @PrinciplesCon, I explained that I'll put country over party in November and vote for @JoeBiden" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Evan McMullin's political views on estate tax Archived October 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, ISideWith: "Evan McMullin personally submitted this answer on September 6th, 2016."
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- Evan McMullin's response to Reuters' story regarding 'secret' exemptions for Iran after nuclear deal Archived October 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine (press release), McMullin for President Committee, Inc. (September 1, 2016).
- Stark, Liz (August 11, 2016). "Why Evan McMullin Says Donald Trump Is More Dangerous Than ISIS". ABC News. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
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- Puliam Bailey, Sarah (October 26, 2016). "Why Donald Trump could lose red Utah: Mormon America has found another candidate". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
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