2020 election

Trump’s Legal Team Now Sidelined by Failure and COVID-19

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

President Trump’s conspiracy-minded legal team is having enough trouble as it is. As lawyers in his camp face the insurmountable task of proving widespread election fraud without any evidence, they’re also struggling with the very basics of the profession — misspelling basic terms, mislabeling counties in their court filings, and failing to introduce the testimony of anonymous expert witnesses named “Spider.”

But due to the way they’ve conducted the inevitably doomed effort — traveling the country and attending indoor events without masks — two of Trump’s lawyers have also been exposed to the coronavirus. Last Friday, the president himself announced that his attorney and unofficial court jester Rudy Giuliani had tested positive for COVID-19. (Four days previously, the mask-less attorney pressured a witness to take off their face covering at a hearing in Michigan.) And on Tuesday, Axios reported that Trump’s lawyer Jenna Ellis had tested positive for the coronavirus.

An attorney who once wrote a book arguing that the Constitution could only be interpreted from a biblical perspective, Ellis’s role in the attempt to contest the election has grown more prominent as a friendly outcome grows more and more impossible. Considered something of a protégée to Giuliani, she describes herself as a “constitutional law attorney” but hasn’t spent any time litigating cases involving election law and has never argued in federal district or circuits courts, where constitutional concerns are addressed. And as the New York Times notes, her work “appears to largely be in a public-relations capacity” as she “has not signed her name or appeared in court to argue a single one” of the Trump campaign’s 50 election lawsuits.

Though Ellis hasn’t been active in the courtrooms of Trump’s failed push, she did attend a White House senior staff party in the East Wing on Friday, where she reportedly did not wear a mask. “She had the nerve to show up at the senior staff Christmas party knowing everyone was furious with her for constantly stirring Trump up with nonsense,” a senior administration official told Axios’ Jonathan Swan. When Swan reached out to her to describe the extent of his reporting, she said it was “rude” to text her after midnight and that he “must be more informed than me because I haven’t heard” that White House staffers were mad at her for not wearing a face covering at the event. “People brought their families,” one senior White House official said.

Trump’s Legal Team Now Sidelined by Failure and COVID-19