Jenna Ellis, a Christian attorney affiliated with conservative Christian organizations before working for Donald Trump and allegedly conspiring with him to overturn his 2020 election loss, claims her indictment on racketeering charges is persecution.
Like Trump, Ellis posted her mug shot on X/Twitter the day she was booked. Trump snarls in his photo, but Ellis beams in hers. The Aug. 23 post, which boosted Ellis’s following, was accompanied by two passages of scripture, including Christ’s words from Matthew 5:44: “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”
“But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you…” Matt 5:44
“But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you… pic.twitter.com/lGcxDN0skI
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) August 23, 2023
Despite the biblical reference to persecution, Ellis is not being indicted for her faith, but for allegedly:
- making false allegations of election fraud at press conferences and in meetings with legislators of Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan;
- promoting fake elector schemes in multiple states;
- writing two legal memos that illegally advised Vice President Mike Pence to disregard legitimate electoral college votes from Georgia and other states
Her indictment follows a March censure by a Colorado judge where Ellis admitted lying and confessed to operating from a “selfish motive” while making “misrepresentations” with “a reckless state of mind.”
Ellis now blames her indictment on a weaponized justice system. “The Democrats and the Fulton County DA are criminalizing the practice of law,” she said in a post.
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Trump spent more than $23 million on legal fees in the first half of 2023, but he’s not helping the 18 Georgia indictees with their legal bills. Ellis has raised more than $180,000 for her legal defense at a Christian crowdfunding site that has become a haven for Proud Boys and antisemites.
Ellis also has been accused of dodging efforts to serve her with a subpoena in a defamation suit against Rudy Guiliani brought by two Georgia election workers. Ellis claimed the workers, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and Ruby Freeman, were moving “suitcases” full of bogus votes.
Conservative legal celebrity
Ellis has a thin professional resume, and was fired from a job as a prosecutor in Weld County, Colorado, for making “mistakes on cases.” But she was telegenic, winning the support of Christian leaders including James Dobson and Colorado Christian University President Bill Armstrong. She has held prestigious positions with a number of conservative evangelical groups, none of which have addressed her growing legal woes.
James Dobson named Ellis director of the Public Policy Center at Dobson Family Institute, the nonprofit he founded after leaving Focus on the Family. Dobson also introduced her to Fox News, where Trump saw her. This led to her work for the candidate and President before joining Rudy Giuliani’s “crack legal team” that unsuccessfully worked to overturn election results in states Trump lost.
Ellis taught at Colorado Christian University (CCU), which incorrectly called her “Dr. Ellis” before correcting the title. She is a fellow in constitutional law & public policy at CCU’s Centennial Institute, and spoke at the institute’s Western Conservative Summit in Denver this summer, just months after she admitted lying as part of her censure.
Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center named Ellis a senior fellow and she has contributed articles on truth and how to “Defend Freedom from Democratic Party Authoritarians.”
Ellis was one of two attorneys successfully defending John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church against COVID vaccine mandates in behalf of The Thomas More Society, a Catholic legal group. Ellis appears in “The Essential Church,” a movie about the case produced by Grace. She also worked with Thomas More’s Amistad Project promoting “election integrity.”
Cedarville University in Ohio offers a Jenna Lynn Ellis Award, an endowed scholarship for junior or senior students planning to attend law school. The school’s website features an article about Ellis and the scholarship.
Ellis is an alumna and faculty member of Summit Ministries, a Christian worldview program for youth. She also appeared in the ministry’s podcast, “The Dr. Jeff Show,” to encourage believers “to stand for God’s truth and expect persecution whenever we follow Jesus Christ.”
She also hosts “The Jenna Ellis Show” on the Salem Podcast Network, where she focuses on “the rule of law and the importance of integrity in our elections.” She has appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network, and condemned government tyranny in a podcast from Concerned Women for America.
Reaction to Ellis’s persecution claims vary widely.
“God is with you. Evil can’t stand when rebuked by those of us who love Jesus,” wrote one donor to her legal bills at GiveSendGo, a Christian platform that has operated campaigns for Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd; Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who shot and killed two men in a riot following Floyd’s death; Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio; protesters involved in the racist and antisemitic 2017 march in Charlottesville; and “patriots” arrested in the January 6 Capitol attack.
“Cowards are the first to be thrown in the lake of fire, & this is undoubtedly where the Communist cowards that are persecuting Jenna Ellis and threatening the survival of America as a free and prosperous nation will end up, barring repentance,” wrote another GiveSendGo donor. Fellow Georgia indictee John Eastman has raised more than $500,000 on the site.
Meanwhile, never-Trumper George Conway responded, “I don’t know about you, but I plan to honor and to serve the Lord today by not engaging in any racketeering conspiracies.”
Another critic said, “You support a sexual predator who incited a coup and lies repeatedly. Pretty sure God has a negative view of those things. Stop pretending that you are being persecuted.”
Ellis has endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 election, which has not endeared her to Trump, whom she claims is persecuting her, too.
“Team Trump is pushing a lie that I’ve been divorced 3x,” Ellis wrote on X. “It’s false. So why THIS lie? They want to destroy my character and make me seem untrustworthy and . . . ‘disloyal.’ It’s the lowest form of political attack but that’s all they have. It’s no better than leftists.”
CORRECTION: Jenna Ellis was not party to the defamation suit brought by Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and Ruby Freeman as stated in the original article. We also removed a reference to religious persecution at Ellis’ request. Ellis stated after publication that she believes she is being “politically persecuted,” not persecuted for her faith.
Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy.