March 15, 2023
Yet another figure who promoted former President Donald Trump’s stolen-election claims has backed down in the face of legal scrutiny. This time it’s the Trump campaign’s then-legal adviser, Jenna Ellis, reports The Washington Post.
But even among the succession of walk-backs, this one stands out, the Post says. That’s because, as part of her censure deal with the Colorado Supreme Court in a disciplinary proceeding, Ellis actually admitted to ten specific “misrepresentations.” Among them are the following:
- Her claim to evidence of “a coordinated effort in all of these states to transfer votes either from Trump to Biden, to manipulate the ballots, to count them in secret.”
- Her claim of “overwhelming evidence proving this was stolen.”
- Her claim that, “The election was stolen and Trump won by a landslide” (a version of which she said repeatedly).
- Her claim that, “The proper and true victor … is Donald Trump.”
- Her claim that, “We have over 500,000 votes [in Arizona] that were cast illegally.”
Ellis’s commentary broadly echoed many of the Trump team’s most frequent claims. And Ellis is now admitting that none of those claims were true.
Perhaps most notably—as part of a deal that apparently helped Ellis avoid potentially stiffer penalties (some have sought the disbarment of lawyers who promoted such claims)—the document says she also agreed that she acted “with at least a reckless state of mind.”
She also agreed that her actions “undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election, violating her duty of candor to the public.” And she agreed that she had “selfish motives” for alleging what she did, but the fact that she hadn’t faced prior discipline weighed to her benefit.
In response to the news, Ellis has sought to emphasize that she didn’t agree that she lied. Rather, she says, she was merely admitting that her claims were unintentionally false.
“They’re now trying to falsely discredit me by saying I admitted I lied,” Ellis tweeted. “That is FALSE. I would NEVER lie. Lying requires INTENTIONALLY making a false statement. I never did that, nor did I stipulate to or admit that.” She noted that the standard involved cites “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, OR misrepresentation.”
Ellis’s tweeted statement walks up to the line of saying she was forced to cave to political and legal pressure. (“This is and always was political lawfare to intimidate lawyers from representing Trump or Republicans candidates,” she said in the statement.) But while asserting that she would keep fighting for her causes, she cited “having learned I can do so in media even more carefully.”
Given that explanation, it’s worth looking at the specific “misrepresentations” Ellis admitted to. Ellis didn’t just claim the election was stolen. She contended Trump’s legal team had “testimonial and other evidence” to back that up and cited “the overwhelming evidence proving this was stolen.”
Perhaps her most pronounced claims came in a November 20, 2020, appearance on the Fox Business show “Mornings with Maria” hosted by Maria Bartiromo — a host who has recently figured prominently in Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News.
Bartiromo leaned into Ellis’s allegations, starting her show by citing “explosive claims from the Trump legal team” involving “allegedly widespread global voter fraud and a coordinated effort to change the outcome of the 2020 election.”
Bartiromo asked Ellis what evidence she had, and Ellis assured her there was plenty: “We had affidavits from witnesses, we have voter intimidation, we have the ballots that were manipulated, we have all kinds of statistics that show that this was a coordinated effort in all of these states to transfer votes either from Trump to Biden, to manipulate the ballots, to count them in secret.”
But elsewhere in the interview, Ellis also suggested that the most damning evidence would have to remain secret. “Maria, no credible attorney is going to go out and actually show the evidence to the mainstream media to have them pick apart and especially dox witnesses, when we’ve already had this type of intimidation of our own attorneys,” Ellis said.
To put Ellis’s comments on television in the context of what she is now admitting, she’s saying the evidence that she assured viewers existed, somewhere, didn’t actually prove what she believed it did. She apparently misunderstood it. Perhaps a more public vetting would have been a good thing?
That’s a particularly stunning explanation when it comes to the last bullet point mentioned above—the one about there somehow being more than 500,000 illegal votes in Arizona. That amount would account for in excess of 1 out of every 7 votes in the state. It just wasn’t a serious claim, even before it was repeatedly confirmed that there was nothing to back it up.
These are pretty remarkable things for a lawyer to flub. But that’s what Ellis says happened, according to the Post. She apparently contends that she decided to allege a massive conspiracy that she now acknowledges “undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election,” as the court filing states—and she even reportedly drafted a plot to overturn the election on January 6 in part by having Vice President Mike Pence reject the submitted electoral votes— based on misunderstandings.
Research contact: @washingonpost