Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who supported former U.S. President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that he was cheated out of winning reelection in 2020, tearfully pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally working to overturn his loss in the southern state of Georgia and agreed to testify against him and others in upcoming trials.
Ellis, 38, became the fourth of Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the sprawling criminal racketeering case to plead guilty. As with the other cases, her plea deal with Fulton County District Fani Willis allowed her to avoid prison time by providing evidence that could implicate others who sought to illegally upend the national election result to keep Trump in the White House.
Ellis pleaded guilty to a single felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election. It is a claim that to this day Trump falsely makes as the leading 2024 Republican presidential contender to take on Democratic President Joe Biden in the national election a year from now.
Ellis told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee that she was wrong and misled by other key Trump supporters about the conduct of the 2020 election and that she no long believes the false claims.
“If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,” Ellis said.
Ellis had been facing two charges in the Georgia case, including violating the state’s anti-racketeering law. In contesting the election outcome in late 2020, she worked closely with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, who faces 13 charges in the Georgia case.
As part of her plea deal, Ellis answered prosecutors’ questions in a lengthy recorded video about her actions and those of other defendants in contesting the election result in Georgia. In recent days, prosecutors also recorded interviews with pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro before they appeared in court to plead guilty to various charges linked to the Georgia election interference case and agreed to testify in upcoming trials.
Ellis agreed to complete three to five years’ probation and 100 hours of community service, pay $5,000 in restitution to the Georgia secretary of state and has already written an apology letter to the residents of Georgia.
Ellis worked closely with Giuliani in late 2020, traveling to the political battleground states of Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania, along with Georgia, where prosecutors say she urged state lawmakers to ignore the election results showing Biden had won and instead, because of alleged vote counting errors that proved unfounded, flip the outcome to Trump.
A Colorado judge admonished Ellis for the false statements she made about the 2020 election. She said that in making the statements, she acted “with a reckless state of mind” and told the judge she had acted with “selfish” motives and that her actions had “undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election.”
In the Georgia case, Trump is most prominently accused, in a taped telephone call, of soliciting state election officials to “find” him 11,780 votes, one vote more than Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia. Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in Georgia and three other criminal cases he is facing, encompassing 91 charges. No trial date has been set in Georgia, although the others are all scheduled in the first half of 2024, amid Trump’s third run for the presidency.
He is also charged in a federal election interference case in Washington, accused in Florida of illegally retaining highly classified national security documents after his presidency ended in early 2021 and thwarting investigators’ attempts to retrieve them. He is also charged in New York of falsifying business records to hide a hush money payment to a porn film star in 2016 ahead of his successful run for the presidency.
If convicted of any of the charges, he could be sentenced to years in prison.