Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis lashes out after Politico exposes her plans to block Biden's election win
Following the 2020 presidential election, attorney Jenna Ellis worked closely with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and other members of then-President Donald Trump’s legal team and aggressively promoted Trump’s false, totally debunked claim that the election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud. Politico is now reporting that Ellis, in two legal memos, claimed that then-Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to count the presidential electors in states that now-President Joe Biden won.
According to Politico reporters Betsy Woodruff Swan and Kyle Cheney, “The memos from then-Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, which contain widely disputed legal theories about Pence’s ability to stop a Biden presidency, underscore Ellis’ promotion of extreme arguments that she promulgated amid Trump's effort to reverse the election results. Her actions have remained largely below the radar as House investigators probe Trump’s inner circle.”
The first memo, Swan and Cheney report, was written on December 31, 2020, and the second was written on January 5 — the day before Congress counted the electoral votes for the presidential election and certified Biden’s Electoral College victory.
“A December 31 Ellis memo delivered to Trump’s office suggested that Pence — who was constitutionally responsible for presiding over Congress’ counting of electoral votes on January 6 — should simply refuse to open envelopes from states whose election results Trump considered to be fraudulent,” Swan and Cheney explain. “That memo was described by ABC reporter Jonathan Karl in his recent book ‘Betrayal.’ Politico is publishing it in full for the first time.”
Swan and Cheney continue, “In a second, previously unreported memo dated January 5, Ellis made a more technical legal argument that she delivered to Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's outside lawyers. Sekulow represented Trump during his first impeachment and in a series of legal battles during his administration, but he had minimal involvement in Trump’s election litigation. The exception was an early November Supreme Court case regarding Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots.’
The Politico journalists note that in the January 5 memo, Ellis “argued that key provisions of the Electoral Count Act — limiting Pence’s authority to affirm or reject certain electors — were likely unconstitutional.”
“She concluded that Pence, while presiding over lawmakers’ counting of electors, should simply halt the process when their alphabetical proceeding reached Arizona,” Swan and Cheney report. “Then, she said, he should declare that the state failed to meet the legal standard for certifying its own electors and ‘require the final ascertainment of electors to be completed before continuing.’”
Ellis has reacted angrily to Politico’s reporting on her December 31 and January 5 memos. The right-wing attorney tweeted:
Wondering how @politico thinks it\u2019s responsible or ethical journalism to publish attorney-client privileged documents.\n\nThey admit they are the first to publish in their entirety the two Ellis memos, which both have the banner \u201cATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED.\u201d\n\nTrump hatred persists.— Jenna Ellis (@Jenna Ellis) 1639164702
She appeared to confirm the authenticity of the report. Her claim the Politico violated journalistic ethics is baseless.
Ellis and Sekulow, according to Swan and Cheney, had different views on what Pence could and couldn’t do when it came to the 2020 election and the electoral votes. Sekulow believes that Pence’s role was strictly a “ministerial, procedural function”; Ellis didn’t agree.
“Ellis' memos were written as other Trump advisers were laying out similarly extreme legal arguments for Pence to upend Biden’s victory,” Swan and Cheney write. “Notably, Ellis’ memos did not go as far as those authored by lawyer John Eastman, another Trump adviser. Eastman claimed Pence had the authority to declare Trump the outright winner of the election by simply excluding dozens of Biden electors from Congress’ tally.”
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