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How Ex-Trump Lawyer Jenna Ellis’ Tearful Plea Deal Could Spell Doom for Giuliani

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Ex-Trump attorney Jenna Ellis became the latest defendant to flip on the former president on Tuesday, making a deal with prosecutors in the Fulton County case—and it could spell doom for co-defendant Rudy Giuliani.

Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements about election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,” Ellis said as she wept in an Atlanta courtroom. “I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse.”

Ellis’ plea implicated Giuliani in that she admitted to aiding and abetting his “false statements” at a December 2020 hearing before Georgia lawmakers in which they both pushed unfounded claims of voter fraud. She said she was “assisting with the execution” of the hearing along with Giuliani and Trump campaign lawyer Ray Smith, another co-defendant. Both Smith and Giuliani have pleaded not guilty.

Attorney Peter Pullano, who has represented criminal defendants for more than 30 years, said Ellis’ plea did not portend smooth sailing for the disgraced ex-New York City mayor.

“Her plea and her agreement to cooperate are certainly very bad news for Giuliani, and there are a few reasons why,” Pullano, the managing partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s Rochester, New York office, told The Daily Beast. “Certainly, she was acting with him, so she’ll be able to testify in detail about what he did. And because they were co-conspirators, there’s an exception to [the] hearsay [rule] when statements have been made in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

As a former federal prosecutor who built his reputation on conspiracy prosecutions, Giuliani “knows this better than anyone,” Pullano continued.

“This is the exception that was used to bring down the mob,” he said. “All sorts of evidence that is normally inadmissible is now admissible. Even more compelling, it’s very hard to discredit the person that you chose to work with.”

To that end, Pullano thinks Giuliani’s team will float the notion in court that Ellis is a liar, and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But, he continued, “It was his colleague… And because of their close relationship, I think it’s going to hurt him the most, among the remaining co-conspirators.”

Ellis agreed to a sentence of five years’ probation, 100 hours of community service, and to pay $5,000 in restitution. She has also written a letter of apology to the people of Georgia and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case.

Prosecutors reached similar agreements last week with Trump-aligned lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell. Scott Hall, a bail bondsman charged in the case along with Powell for breaching voting equipment at a Georgia county election office, has also pleaded guilty.

“I now take responsibility before this court and apologize to the people of Georgia,” Ellis said in court. “I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of experience than I, to provide me with true and reliable information. 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.”

There’s a reason why 98 percent of criminal defendants take plea deals, former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told The Daily Beast. Chesebro, Powell, and Ellis are lawyers by trade, and know the offers were “too good to give up,” he said.

“Ellis had to eat a felony, but it’s still a no-time deal,” he said. “This is a classic prisoner’s dilemma situation… Now that everyone’s pleading, with multiple witnesses testifying against those who don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more plea deals soon.”

As part of her deal, Ellis also agreed not to discuss the case on social media. In August, she posted a defiant message on X, formerly Twitter, saying: “I am resolved to trust the Lord and I will simply continue to honor, praise, and serve Him. I deeply appreciate all of my friends who have reached out offering encouragement and support.”

She further agreed to give any evidence or documents requested by the prosecution, as well as truthful testimony in any related future trial. Exactly how credible Ellis and the other defendants who have now pleaded guilty could be as potential witnesses is uncertain given their involvement in baseless schemes.

Ellis’ agreement brings her “very close, if not as close as potentially possible, to Rudy Giuliani,” former federal prosecutor Richard Serafini told The Daily Beast.

“From what we know publicly, they worked together,” he said. “Just on the face of it, it certainly doesn’t look like good news [for him].”

Prosecutors dropped two racketeering charges against Ellis in exchange for her guilty plea, which Trump lawyer Steve Sadow said on Tuesday was good news for his client.

To that, Pullano said, “They like to save the top count for the big fish.”

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