Former Trump Attorney Jenna Ellis Pleads Guilty in Georgia, Offers Testimony Against Trump
WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) – Jenna Ellis, a former lawyer for Donald Trump, entered a guilty plea on Tuesday, admitting her involvement in the ex-president’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia. She also agreed to testify against Trump if required.
Ellis becomes the third member of Trump’s legal team to strike a plea deal since Thursday, following Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro. This marks the fourth out of the 19 individuals charged in a wide-ranging racketeering indictment led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who have agreed to provide testimony.
In a courtroom in Atlanta, Ellis, at times with a trembling voice, acknowledged that she had not adequately verified the claims of voter fraud made by her fellow Trump attorneys. She expressed remorse for her role in representing Trump after the election, stating, “What I failed to do, Your Honor, was ensure that the facts asserted by the other lawyers were indeed accurate. I look back on this entire experience with deep regret.”
This case is one of four legal challenges that Trump, who maintains his innocence, is facing as he vies for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Two of these cases are related to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, where he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
These guilty pleas represent significant progress for Willis in securing potential testimony that could implicate Trump and other more prominent defendants in an alleged scheme to unlawfully interfere in the election. Legal experts have noted that such plea deals are often offered to lower-level defendants to encourage them to cooperate and potentially implicate higher-ranking individuals.
Ellis, 38, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting false statements and writings. Prosecutors revealed that she had attended a meeting with Georgia lawmakers, during which Trump’s personal lawyer and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani made false claims about voting irregularities. This meeting was part of an unsuccessful attempt to persuade lawmakers to reject Biden’s narrow victory in the state.
Ellis had frequently appeared alongside Giuliani in the weeks following the election, as part of what she referred to as an “elite strike force” aimed at contesting the election results on Trump’s behalf. Her plea agreement stipulates a sentence of five years of probation and a $5,000 restitution.
All defendants who have pleaded guilty thus far have avoided incarceration, indicating the willingness of prosecutors to offer leniency to those further down the hierarchy in exchange for their cooperation.
The precise nature and scope of Powell, Chesebro, and Ellis’s testimony remain unclear. Both Powell and Ellis are known to have had direct communication with Trump during his efforts to remain in power. Chesebro is the sole defendant whose scheme was directly linked to Trump, as he admitted to conspiring to submit false documents in an effort to present fraudulent elector slates in states won by Biden.
Legal experts suggest that the recent spate of plea deals may intensify the pressure on other lower-level defendants to engage in negotiations with prosecutors in pursuit of more favorable treatment. However, it’s unclear how far the state is willing to negotiate in future plea deals.