As recently as 2016, Jenna Ellis was not a Donald Trump admirer. She repeatedly described the then-candidate as an “idiot,” adding that she considered him an “unethical, corrupt, lying, criminal, dirtbag.” Ellis even took aim at Trump’s supporters, saying they didn’t care about “facts or logic.”
Ellis nevertheless joined Trump’s legal team a few years ago, becoming a rather enthusiastic proponent, not only of her client’s lies about his 2020 defeat, but also of radical tactics that would allow the then-president to remain in office despite the election results. We later learned that Ellis also exchanged hundreds of text messages with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the runup to Jan. 6, and ultimately took the Fifth in response to questions about those communications. Ellis was also ordered to testify before the special grand jury in Georgia that investigated alleged election interference efforts.
But while much of the public has come to expect few consequences for Republican lawyers who engage in such tactics, as NBC News reported, Ellis has had to pay a price for trying to deceive the public.
Jenna Ellis, an attorney who advised then-President Donald Trump as he tried to overturn the 2020 election results, was censured for misconduct Wednesday by a Colorado Supreme Court judge. The Colorado Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel said that Ellis violated a Colorado rule for professional conduct that prohibits “misrepresentation” by attorneys.
To be sure, Ellis is not the first lawyer in Trump’s orbit to face this kind of scrutiny. As a Politico report noted, Rudy Giuliani’s law license was suspended, while Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman are awaiting disciplinary proceedings. She also isn't the first election denier to face court sanctions.
What makes this story especially notable, however, is the fact that Ellis, as part of the legal proceedings, acknowledged that she didn’t tell the public the truth. From the NBC News report:
Last month, Ellis’ lawyer had filed a stipulation agreeing to a public censure of his client and acknowledging 10 misrepresentations in the aftermath of the 2020 election, including repeatedly claiming that the election was stolen from Trump. Ellis also acknowledged misleading comments stemming from claims she made on Fox Business about affidavits from witnesses, voter intimidation and statistics that proved a “coordinated effort” to transfer votes from Trump to Biden. According to the signed stipulation, she made similar claims on Twitter.
It’s worth pausing to appreciate the significance of such an acknowledgement.
For one thing, this serves as a powerful reminder about the qualitative difference between how assorted partisans treat media interviews and legal proceedings. In this case, Ellis repeatedly peddled false claims about the former president’s defeat — assertions she knew at the time weren’t true — in a variety of settings. But when push came to shove, the attorney seemed to realize that while she expected to get away with lying on the air, she approached the Colorado Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel in a more serious way.
For another, to this day, the former president continues to lie about the 2020 election results as if his claims had merit. One of his former lawyers has now been forced to concede that while she peddled related rhetoric, the claims had no merit.