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Ex-Trump attorney Jenna Ellis pleads guilty in Georgia election interference case

Jenna Ellis speaks with her attorney Franklin Hogue in an Atlanta court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to a felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writing.
John Bazemore
Jenna Ellis speaks with her attorney Franklin Hogue in an Atlanta court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to a felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writing.

Updated October 24, 2023 at 2:47 PM ET

ATLANTA — Attorney Jenna Ellis has entered a guilty plea in the Georgia election interference case.

Ellis is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the broad racketeering case focused on efforts to keep then-President Donald Trump in office after his 2020 loss to Joe Biden.

Lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell entered guilty pleas last week just before their trial was set to begin. Scott Hall, a bail bondsman, pleaded guilty in September.

In exchange for truthful testimony at future trials, Ellis pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. She had been charged with two counts, including racketeering.

The terms of the plea agreement also include five years probation, $5,000 restitution to the Georgia secretary of state's office, 100 hours community service and a letter of apology to the people of Georgia.

Ellis' charge stems from a Dec. 3, 2020, subcommittee hearing of Georgia's Senate Judiciary Committee where Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Ray Smith made a litany of baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

Guliani and Smith, both co-defendants in the Georgia case, asserted that tens of thousands of minors, felons and dead people voted in Georgia's 2020 election. Ellis pleaded guilty to aiding this testimony, which prosecutors say was intended to convince the legislature to disregard Biden's victory in Georgia.

"The false statements were made with reckless disregard for the truth," prosecutor Daysha Young said at Tuesday's plea hearing.

Ellis began to cry as she asked to address the court.

"What I did not do, but should have done, your honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true," Ellis said. "In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the election in several states including Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence. I believe in and I value election integrity. If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges."

Ellis was censured earlier this year by a Colorado judge after admitting she made repeated false statements about the 2020 presidential election.

In Georgia, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has not set a trial date yet for the remaining co-defendants, including Trump.

The former president's federal election interference trial is scheduled to begin in March, so a Georgia trial is unlikely to begin before next spring.

Copyright 2023 90.1 WABE

Sam Gringlas is a journalist at NPR's All Things Considered. In 2020, he helped cover the presidential election with NPR's Washington Desk and has also reported for NPR's business desk covering the workforce. He's produced and reported with NPR from across the country, as well as China and Mexico, covering topics like politics, trade, the environment, immigration and breaking news. He started as an intern at All Things Considered after graduating with a public policy degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the managing news editor at The Michigan Daily. He's a native Michigander.

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