Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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MAGA media melt down over former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis’ guilty plea in election subversion case

MAGA media figures are having mixed reactions after former Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty today to felony charges of attempting to subvert and overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Some on the right are attacking Ellis for pleading guilty after soliciting donations to “fight” the case, while others are standing by her and dismissing the deal as a “Maoist struggle session.”

  • On October 24, Ellis pleaded guilty in Georgia over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss

    • Ellis was sentenced to five years probation and 100 hours of community service, and she was mandated to pay a $5,000 fine and write an apology letter to the people of Georgia. The Associated Press reported, “Ellis, the fourth defendant in the case to enter into a plea deal with prosecutors, was a vocal part of Trump’s reelection campaign in the last presidential cycle and was charged alongside the Republican former president and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law.” [The Associated Press, 10/24/23]
    • Ellis tearfully read her apology letter during her October 24 hearing. “What I did not do, but I should have done, your honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true,” Ellis said. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges. I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse.” [Jenna Ellis’ court statement, 10/24/23]
  • Video file

    Citation From an October 24, 2023, court proceeding in Atlanta, Georgia

  • Right-wing media attack Ellis over her plea deal

  • Many of her critics on the right also blamed Ellis for previously taking donations for her legal defense.

    • Right-wing radio host and former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka: “Jeanne Ellis pleads guilty in Fulton County. Listen and tell me what you think. #NotBuyingIt.” [Twitter/X, 10/24/23]

    • Anti-Muslim extremist Laura Loomer: “Jenna Ellis scammed all of you who donated to her. I TOLD YOU NOT TO DONATE TO THIS DISLOYAL WENCH.” “She didn’t even attempt to fight the charges,” Loomer added. “She’s now going to use the money so many of you foolishly gave her to work against President Trump in an election year. Shame on every single MORON who donated to Jenna Ellis.” [Twitter/X, 10/24/23]

    • Former co-host of Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast Raheem Kassam: “Crying Jenna Ellis took $216,000 from the public, claiming she was going to ‘fight’ against the court case. Instead, she copped a plea deal today.” Kassam also wrote on X (formerly Twitter), “Imagine being a lawyer and crying in a courtroom that you didn’t actually look into the case you took, then blaming others. Pathetic.” [Twitter/X, 10/24/23, 10/24/23]

    • Townhall columnist Gavin Wax: “She needs to return the money she raised back to her donors. That’s the Christian thing to do!” [Twitter/X, 10/24/23]

    • Right-wing host Breanna Morello: “Jenna Ellis is a fraud. She grifted her way through the movement. She asked Americans to donate to her legal fund knowing she was going to fold quick than a cheap lawn chair. No one likes a rat—especially a rat that has to make stuff up because NOTHING ILLEGAL happened.” [Twitter/X, 10/24/23]

  • MAGA media stand by Ellis and dismiss her plea deal as a “struggle session”

  • "Struggle session" is a term originated during Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution that refers to disciplining dissident figures by being “publicly humiliated, beaten and in some cases murdered.”

    • On his radio show, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said Ellis went through a “struggle session, denunciation, public humiliation” by reading the apology letter, comparing her statement to “a hostage video.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/24/23]

    • Neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec: “Struggle Sessions and gulags are here now. Right on schedule.” Posobiec also wrote, “Struggle Sessions. Gulags. Show trials. Good thing nothing like this has ever happened before.” [Twitter/X, 10/24/23, 10/24/23]

    • Right-wing influencer Rogan O’Handley, known online as “DC Draino,” wrote, “This sounds like something you’d read about in a Maoist struggle session. We are now prosecuting lawyers for the crime of representing their clients. Banana Republic.” [Twitter/X, 10/24/23]

    • Conspiracy theory blog Gateway Pundit: “A Tearful Jenna Ellis Pleads Guilty in Georgia Election Case in Exchange For Reduced Charges – Forced to Pen Apology Letter in Struggle Session.” [Gateway Pundit, 10/24/23]