Legal Law

Superlawyer Jenna Ellis Cooked Up Artful Election Stealing Memo

Everyone’s favorite Kraken traffic lawyer is back in the news thanks to another excerpt from reporter Jonathan Karl’s book new Betrayal:The Final Act of the Trump Show (affiliate link). Jenna Ellis famously trotted around behind Rudy Giuliani as he leaked, broke wind, and vomited nonsense all over the federal docket. But she wasn’t just a trusty sidekick — she made important contributions to the Insane Election Memo oeuvre herself.

It’s a crowded field, with John Eastman bragging that he’s a “white knight hero” for talking the president out of following the advice laid out in those two gonzo memos which the law professor himself came up with. Lay lawyer Johnny McEntee, a former quarterback who rose from Trump’s body man to head of the Presidential Personnel Office at age 29, also offered up his own legal theories in a 125-word text to Pence’s counsel. As reported by Karl, it managed to be both legally and historically inaccurate.

It’s a high bar, but Ellis cleared it with several inches to spare. According to ABC news, “Doctor” Ellis’s crafty plan entailed Vice President Pence rejecting electoral votes from Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin on January 6. Never mind that the Vice President’s duties involve opening the state certifications and announcing the tally. Self-described “constitutional lawyer” Jenna Ellis had deducted that Pence could unilaterally order state legislatures to reconvene and issue new slates of electors by January 15.

This was highly unlikely to happen, for many, many reasons, not least because Georgia Governor Brian Kemp had already announced that he wasn’t going to convene a special legislative session. Eastman got around this by inventing a new constitutional authority for the legislature to convene itself. Easy peasy!

But Ellis had a different contingency plan:

Then, Ellis wrote, if any state legislature missed that deadline, “no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state.”

Such a scenario would leave neither Biden nor Trump with a majority of votes, Ellis wrote, which would mean “Congress shall vote by state delegation” — which, Ellis said, would in turn lead to Trump being declared the winner due to Republicans controlling the majority of state delegations with 26.


This plan bears a strong similarity to one of John Eastman’s “War Gaming [] Alternatives” in which he suggested that, “If State Legislatures have not certified their own slates of electors, VP Pence determines, based on all the evidence and the letters from state legislators calling into question the executive certifications, decides to count neither slate of electors.” Except that Eastman seems to have grokked that this would reduce the denominator by 79 electoral votes, from 538 to 459, meaning that the victor would only need 230 to win it. And hey, wouldn’t ya know tossing out those six states would give Trump 232 votes to Biden’s 222.

Our Jenna seems to have believed that the gambit would send the decision to the House at large to decide by state delegations. Which is about what you’d expect from an attorney who was once deemed too incompetent to be fired for cause, because “There are insufficient facts the claimant was not performing the duties to the best of her ability. There were some deficiencies in her education and experience that account for some of the errors she committed while learning on the job under high volume conditions.”

But Ellis has an answer for the haters.

You go, girl.

Memo from Trump attorney outlined how Pence could overturn election, says new book [ABC News]

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

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