Disavowing Trump, a tearful Jenna Ellis pleads guilty in Fulton election probe
Lawyer is fourth defendant to strike a plea deal
Attorney Jenna Ellis Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings, a felony, in exchange for her cooperation.She is the fourth defendant in the Fulton County election interference case to strike a plea deal.Ellis “knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully” made false statements about election fraud in Georgia, according to her new charging document.In addition to testifying in the fraud case, Ellis will serve five years probation, 100 hours of community service and pay $5,000 in restitution to the Secretary of State’s Office. .If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges, Jenna Ellis
Attorney Jenna Ellis on Tuesday became the fourth defendant in the Fulton County election interference case to strike a deal with prosecutors.
In exchange for her cooperation, Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings, a felony. Speaking to the judge in a Fulton courtroom Tuesday, Ellis tearfully said she no longer believed the claims of election fraud she spread following the 2020 election when she acted as a legal adviser and media surrogate for Trump..
“I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse,” she said.
The count Ellis pled to stemmed from her testimony before a Georgia Senate subcommittee in late 2020. Along with co-defendants Rudy Giuliani and Ray Smith, Ellis “knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully” made false statements about election fraud in Georgia, according to her new charging document.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ellis must serve five years probation, perform 100 hours of community service and pay $5,000 in restitution to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. She agreed to testify truthfully when called, provide documents and other evidence, refrain from posting about the case on social media and to pen an apology letter to Georgia voters.
Ellis’s plea deal came less than a week after two of the case’s other defendants, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, struck similar agreements with Fulton prosecutors just hours before jury selection for their speedy trial was set to begin. Fifteen defendants remain, including former President Donald Trump, ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Giuliani.
The plea agreement cites numerous false statements Ellis, Giuliani and Smith made during a Dec. 3, 2020, legislative hearing in Atlanta, during which the group pushed for lawmakers to appoint a slate of pro-Trump presidential electors, even though Democrat Joe Biden had won the state.
Among other things, the trio claimed at least 96,000 fraudulent absentee ballots were cast in the election, 2,506 felons voted, 66,248 underage voters cast ballots and 10,315 dead people voted. None of those claims were true — and Ellis acknowledged as much as part of her plea agreement.
Ellis, 38, also took the unusual step of addressing Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the case, from behind the defense table. With tears streaming down her face, Ellis said, “if I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges.
Ellis told McAfee that she endeavored to represent Trump to the best of her ability. But in doing so, she relied on more senior attorneys “to provide me with true and reliable information,” particularly as she took on a more public role speaking before the media and state legislators.
“In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the election in several states, including Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence,” she said.
Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Like Chesebro, Powell and Scott Hall, the other co-defendant to take a plea deal, Ellis negotiated with prosecutors so that she was pleading guilty to a crime that was not considered one of “moral turpitude.” That distinction could make it easier for Ellis to keep her law license, though she was censured by legal officials in her home state of Colorado in March for making 10 “misrepresentations” following the 2020 elections.
Ellis was indicted in Fulton County on two charges in August: racketeering and solicitation of violation of oath by public officer.
In a statement released after the plea was announced on Tuesday, Trump lawyer Steve Sadow said Fulton’s “so-called RICO case is nothing more than a bargaining chip for DA (Fani) Willis. “
“Moreover, this plea was to a completely separate charge, not a part of the original indictment, which doesn’t even mention President Trump,” he said.
Ellis has drawn blowback from Trump supporters in recent months for being critical of the former president and complimentary of his primary rival Ron DeSantis.
She has also had issues paying for her legal defense, taking to social media to complain that Trump wasn’t helping pay the legal bills of those indicted for their work for him post-2020.
“I totally agree this has become a bigger principle than just one man. So why isn’t MAGA, Inc. funding everyone’s defense?” Ellis wrote on X, the platform formerly called Twitter.
She instead took to the Christian-based fundraising platform GiveSendGo to crowdfund her legal defense. She so far has raised more than $216,000 from nearly 3,000 donors.
Four defendants have taken plea deals in the Georgia election interference case. Fulton County prosecutors brought charges against 19 defendants in the case overall, including former President Donald Trump:
Scott Hall: A bail bondsman charged along with Powell with taking part in a breach of voting equipment and data at a rural Georgia county’s elections office.
Sidney Powell: An outspoken member of Trump’s legal team who spun wild conspiracy claims in the aftermath of the election.
Kenneth Chesebro: An architect of the effort to deploy fake Trump electors in Georgia and other swing states.
Jenna Ellis: A pro-Trump lawyer who amplified former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud as part of what she called a legal “elite strike force team.”
More inside: How guilty pleas could fuel Fulton election probe, A7