Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer and chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, announced Monday that he was mounting an independent presidential bid in an attempt to take Republican votes away from Donald Trump.
McMullin has already missed the ballot-filing deadlines in 26 states, but he could have an impact in anti-Trump conservative strongholds like Utah, where McMullin has a week left to register on the ballot, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"Evan has spent his entire career in service to our nation and today he’s continuing on that path as a candidate for president—he is running first and foremost out of a deep love for this country, and because he understands the true brand of American leadership that is required to be commander-in-chief," McMullin’s campaign wrote to supporters.
A spokesman for the House Republican Conference said the organization had "zero knowledge" of McMullin’s campaign launch, while an aide told the Wall Street Journal he no longer worked there.
McMullin has sharply criticized Trump, calling him an "authoritarian" during the GOP nominee’s speech at the Republican National Convention last month.
Authoritarians like @realDonaldTrump use promises of law & order to justify infringing on civil rights as they consolidate control by force.
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) July 22, 2016
In another tweet from May, McMullin wrote that opposing Trump was about the "virtue" of "putting principle over power."
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) May 7, 2016
He also condemned Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, arguing in a Facebook post that 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," McMullin wrote earlier this month. "Attacking them as a group makes America weaker, not stronger."
Florida-based Republican strategist Rick Wilson, who has also spoken out against Trump, will be involved in McMullin’s longshot campaign. Sources told Buzzfeed on Monday that Wilson was in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to meet with people involved in McMullin’s White House bid.
McMullin now has an official campaign website, which launched Monday.