Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis cries in court as she pleads guilty in Georgia election case

She is the third former Trump-linked attorney to turn into a cooperating witness in Fulton County

Oliver O'Connell,Alex Woodward
Tuesday 24 October 2023 11:06 EDT
Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis cries as she pleads guilty to election crimes

Jenna Ellis, one of the group of attorneys charged as a co-defendant of Donald Trump in the sprawling Georgia election subversion indictment, broke down in tears in court as she took a plea deal.

She became the fourth of 19 defendants in the case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to plead guilty, and a third member of the former president’s inner circle of attorneys to turn into a cooperating witness.

A new charging document filed by the clerk of the Fulton County Superior Court on 24 October charges her with one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Ellis will serve five years of probation; will pay $5,000 in restitution to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office; has first offender status and will carry out 100 hours of community service.

She also must write an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia, provide additional recorded statements to prosecutors and testify truthfully if called to the stand for a trial with the remaining defendants.

Ellis also is prohibited from discussing the case with co-defendants, witnesses or the media.

“As an attorney who is also a Christian, I take my responsibilities as a lawyer very seriously,” Ellis said in a courtroom in Atlanta on Tuesday. “I endeavored to represent my client to the best of my ability …What I did not do ... was ensure the facts ... were, in fact, true.”

Ellis, who teared up during her appearance inside Juge Scott McAffee’s courtroom, said she would have declined to represent the former president if she “knew then what I know now.”

“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 added. “I believe in and I value election integrity.”

Fellow attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro took plea deals last week, just days before their trial was due to start in Atlanta. The newly minted cooperating witnesses in Georgia’s sweeping criminal case targeting Mr Trump and a dozen others could pose a significant legal threat to the former president as he enters several criminal and civil proceedings while he campaigns for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Jenna Ellis reacts after pleading guilty to a felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings, inside Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s courtroom on 24 October 2023

The first co-defendant to plead guilty was Scott Hall, a bail bondsman who was charged over his role in a voting systems breach in Coffee County in early 2021.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of an election.

Chesebro, the architect of the so-called “alternate” elector plot to overturn 2020 presidential election results in states that Mr Trump lost, pleaded guilty to one felony: conspiracy to commit filing false documents, the fraudulent electoral college certification for Georgia’s election results performed in coordination with Mr Trump’s campaign.

Powell pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to interfere with elections.

Following her plea, the former president distanced himself from his one-time campaign-allied lawyer, who joined a failed legal effort to overturn 2020 election results and the seizure of voting machines in Georgia’s Coffee County.

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