ATLANTA — Jenna Ellis, a lawyer and prominent conservative figure, reached a deal with prosecutors on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assisting Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
Ellis, the fourth defendant to reach a plea deal, was an important part of Trump’s re-election campaign. and together with him and 17 other peopleis accused of violating Georgia’s law against organized crime.
Ellis pleaded guilty to assisting in the preparation of false statements and writings. He faced charges of violating Georgia’s racketeering and racketeering law and soliciting a public official in breach of duty.
Last week, two other defendants, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, they did the same. This means that three prominent figures in efforts to spread the falsehood that Trump won the election have agreed to take responsibility for their actions, rather than risk a jury’s decision.
Ellis, 38, said through tears that she relied on the advice of more experienced attorneys and failed to verify the veracity of what they told her.
Prosecutors recommended five years of probation for Ellis, payment of $5,000 in compensation, completion of 100 hours of community service, writing a letter of apology to the citizens of Georgia, and testifying truthfully at trials related to the case.
The guilty pleas and relatively light punishment — probation instead of jail — could presage similar decisions for other defendants if they were willing to plead guilty and commit to cooperation as their best path to leniency. Even so, their role as witnesses against Trump could be questioned, since their direct participation in the spread of lies will surely make them the target of questions about their credibility if they decide to testify.
The filing lists several allegations against Ellis, including that he helped draft plans on how to obstruct or delay legislative certification of the election results on Jan. 6, 2021, the day a mob of Trumpist fanatics stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Ellis is also accused of asking state lawmakers to illegally appoint a set of pro-Trump electors to a hearing in Pennsylvania, and she later participated in a meeting on the issue with some of those lawmakers and with Trump at the White House. The case adds that she also asked state legislators to support other false electors for Trump in Georgia, as well as in Arizona and Michigan.
Weissert reported from Washington. Washington correspondent Eric Tucker contributed to this story.