Who Is Former Trump Campaign Lawyer Jenna Ellis?

Jenna Ellis, formerly a lawyer for Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign, pleaded guilty in a Georgia court on October 24, 2023, admitting to one count of aiding and abetting false statements, which is a felony (via CNN). The charges against her were due to lies that Ellis and other members of the Trump 2020 Campaign allegedly told to officials in Georgia in December 2020. In light of her guilty plea, the former Trump lawyer was sentenced to pay $5,000 in restitution to the State of Georgia, and she will remain on probation for the next 5 years. She will also be expected to cooperate with prosecutors as they continue to try other members of her former team for similar charges, including Donald J. Trump himself.

Ellis said of her guilty plea, in a statement to the court, "If I knew then what I knew now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges." She went on to say that she looks back at her actions with "deep remorse."

But how did her career lead Ellis to this defeating moment, and when did she first believe that Donald Trump may not be a person she would want to align herself with or professionally support? The answers might surprise you.   

Jenna Ellis was not always a Donald Trump supporter

Though lawyer Jenna Ellis was one of the familiar faces of Donald Trump's 2020 Campaign, she was not always in the Trump camp. In fact, there was a time when she was immensely vocal about denouncing him.

Back in 2020, the Trump campaign listed Jenna Ellis as a senior legal adviser, along with Rudy Giuliani. Ellis was quoted as calling the Trump legal team that she helped to head up an "elite strike force team" (via the New York Times). After Trump lost the election to President Joe Biden, she was seen at multiple public hearings and other events where she perpetuated the claims that there had been widespread election fraud, something that has been proven factually untrue, and that has landed her in the hot legal water in which she currently finds herself.

But during the 2016 election, in which Trump battled Hillary Clinton for the Oval Office, Ellis was whistling a very different tune about Donald Trump (via CNN). At the time, before Trump became the sole candidate for the Republican Party, Ellis publicly called him "boorish and arrogant," a "bully," an "idiot," and in a now-deleted Facebook post even went so far as to say that Trump's values were "not American," linking to another post that called Trump an "American fascist." So how did she end up his staunchest defender by 2018, only to flip on him in court in 2023? 

Tracking the career of Jenna Ellis

Jenna Ellis began her legal career in Weld Country, Colorado in 2012, where she served as a deputy district attorney. She made her conservative affiliations more widely known when she later took a job with famed evangelical author and psychologist James Dobson, who founded Focus on the Family, a conservative multimedia organization. Ellis also became a faculty member at Colorado Christian University, where she taught law, and in this capacity, she began making appearances on Denver radio stations as a legal commentator. 

It was during these radio broadcasts that Ellis changed her tune. Once Donald Trump was the official Republican presidential nominee in 2016, Ellis announced during a radio broadcast that she had been "completely wrong" about Trump (via CNN). And by 2018, she was using her voice to defend the then-President while he was facing impeachment. Whether she honestly changed her opinion or whether she saw that route as the best one to further her career is anyone's guess. But if her aim was the latter, it sure did work. She was hired by the Trump Campaign in 2019.

But soon enough, Ellis switched sides again. In September 2023, Ellis said of her former boss, "Why I have chosen to distance is because of that frankly malignant narcissistic tendency to simply say that he's never done anything wrong" (via The Guardian). By pleading guilty in Georgia, Ellis fully severed herself from any allegiance she once had to Trump.