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Former CIA Agent to Launch Independent Presidential Bid

Evan McMullin, a former CIA counterterrorism operative, will run for president as a third-party conservative alternative to Donald Trump, the group backing the candidate told ABC News today.

The group, Better for America, has been working for months on trying to select a candidate and get on ballots throughout the country. In some states, like Texas, they will likely have to sue to get on the ballot. It's an extreme uphill climb, but they are confident McMullin, 40, can act as a disruptor who they hope can peel off some red states in a race where some Republicans are still resistant to Donald Trump.

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McMullin’s candidacy, backed by some Republicans, shows how the “Never Trump” movement is still working to upend Trump even with less than three months left until the general election. McMullin may be a long shot, but will have a legitimate organization behind him.

McMullin, who is now chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, will file today and in a statement told ABC News exclusively:

“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.”

The group says prominent Republicans will back McMullin, who has some well-known GOP operatives working behind the effort, including Republican consultant Rick Wilson and Florida-based pollster and operative Joel Searby. Better for America has been funded in part by John Kingston, a Boston-based conservative donor who bundled for Mitt Romney.

McMullin was born in Provo, Utah, and earned a bachelor’s degree in international law and diplomacy from Brigham Young University and a master’s of business administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

McMullin served as a Mormon missionary in Brazil and volunteer refugee resettlement officer in Amman, Jordan, on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was in training at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He completed his training and volunteered for overseas service in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, spearheading counterterrorism and intelligence operations in some of the most dangerous nations, according to the group.

Once he left the CIA in 2011, McMullin went to work for Goldman Sachs in the San Francisco Bay Area and in 2013 became a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and later the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.

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