Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign attorney who worked with Rudy Giuliani to press state legislatures to overturn the 2020 election results, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge that she participated in an effort to make false statements to Georgia lawmakers about election fraud.
Ellis is the third Trump-aligned attorney in recent days to plead guilty to crimes stemming from the 2020 election, joining Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, who each accepted deals to admit to aspects of the charges brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
All three lawyers had been charged alongside Donald Trump and many of his other allies with a sprawling racketeering conspiracy. Their pleas may reshape the case against Trump, supplying prosecutors with testimony from some of his closest advisers, who are now admitting for the first time that some of their actions crossed the line into criminality.
“If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,” Ellis said through tears during a court appearance in Atlanta Tuesday morning.
Ellis acknowledged that she helped supply false information related to claims by Giuliani and another Trump lawyer that nearly 100,000 mail-in ballots were fraudulently cast, that 2,500 felons illegally voted, that more than 60,000 underage people illegally registered to vote, and that more than 10,000 dead people voted in the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia, among other assertions. She agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in future proceedings, serve five years of probation, pay $5,000 in restitution and write a letter of apology.
Ellis, 38, described herself as a relatively junior member of Trump’s legal team.
“I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of experience than I to provide me with true and reliable information,” Ellis told the judge in the case, Scott McAfee. “What I did not do, but should have done, Your Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true. In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the election in several states, including Georgia. I failed to do my due diligence.”
After the election, Ellis traveled often with Giuliani to states won by Joe Biden and pushed Republican lawmakers to appoint alternate slates of presidential electors.
During her statement to the judge Tuesday, Ellis alluded to her previous admission to misrepresenting claims of election fraud in a deal she reached with Colorado authorities who discipline lawyers for misconduct.
Ellis’s lawyers agreed with prosecutors that the offense she admitted to Tuesday was not “a crime of moral turpitude.” That agreement, which is also a part of the guilty pleas by the other Trump-affiliated lawyers, could help them avoid disbarment or other serious action against their law licenses.
A lawyer for Trump said the prosecution’s willingness to drop the racketeering charge and agree to probation for Ellis undercuts the existing indictment.
“What that shows is this so-called RICO case is nothing more than a bargaining chip for Willis,” the lawyer, Steve Sadow, said in a statement, referring to the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Sadow also noted that the charge to which Ellis pleaded guilty “doesn’t even mention President Trump.”
Ellis was a prominent figure in Trump’s orbit in the chaotic weeks following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election. Though she didn’t appear in any Trump campaign litigation, she was a fixture alongside Giuliani as they pressed state lawmakers to credit the claims of election fraud that Ellis now says she no longer believes.
Ellis also played a role in efforts to press then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count Biden’s presidential electors. She drafted memos that were circulated among Trump allies supporting Pence’s authority to sidestep existing laws and simply decline to open envelopes containing Biden’s electoral votes.
A prosecutor on the case said in court Tuesday that Ellis didn’t do what she needed to do to check the accuracy of the information presented at a Dec. 3, 2020, Georgia Senate hearing and similar proceedings elsewhere in the country.
“The false statements were made with reckless disregard of the truth and with conspicuous disregard of the truth and with conspicuous purpose to avoid learning the truth,” prosecutor Daysha Young said.