A former attorney for Donald Trump told prosecutors in Georgia that a senior White House official insisted to her that the then-president had no plans to leave office “under any circumstances” despite losing the 2020 election and multiple legal challenges to try to remain in power.
Jenna Ellis, a key figure in Trump’s effort to remain in power, made the remarks in an interview with investigators in Fulton County after pleading guilty to a lesser charge in the state’s indictment of Trump and 18 other co-conspirators. District Attorney Fani Willis charged the group with more than a dozen felonies, alleging participants engaged in a sweeping conspiracy to try to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results.
Ellis, who was named in that indictment, provided her testimony as part of what’s known as a proffer agreement. In partial video recordings of those talks, Ellis said that in December 2020, Dan Scavino, then the deputy White House chief of staff, told her “the boss” would refuse to leave the Oval Office.
“And he said to me, you know, in a kind of excited tone, ‘Well, we don’t care, and we’re not going to leave,’” Ellis recounted in her testimony, partial video of which was obtained by ABC News and The Washington Post. “And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said ‘Well, the boss,’ meaning President Trump ― and everyone understood ‘the boss,’ that’s what we all called him ― he said, ‘the boss is not going to leave under any circumstances.’”
“‘We are just going to stay in power,’” she recounted him telling her. “And I said to him, ‘Well, it doesn’t quite work that way, you realize?’ and he said, ‘We don’t care.’”
It’s unclear if Ellis’ testimony will be helpful to prosecutors in the Georgia case. But her comments add context to the efforts those in Trump’s orbit were taking to reject the results of the 2020 election. Trump’s lead attorney in the Georgia case told ABC News the revelations were “absolutely meaningless.”
“The only salient fact to this nonsense line of inquiry is that President Trump left the White House on January 20, 2021, and returned to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” the counsel, Steve Sadow, said. “If this is the type of bogus, ridiculous ‘evidence’ DA Willis intends to rely upon, it is one more reason that this political travesty of a case must be dismissed.”
Several others named in the indictment have also struck deals with prosecutors and given their own proffer interviews. Kenneth Chesebro told investigators he briefed Trump on his campaign’s challenges to the 2020 results in Arizona, evidence that could show Trump was personally involved in a scheme to install fake electors in key swing states, the Post reported.
And Sidney Powell, who also has pleaded guilty, told prosecutors Trump relied on her counsel against the advice of those in the White House, saying he did so “because we were the only ones willing to support his effort to sustain the White House.”
“I mean, everybody else was telling him to pack up and go,” Powell said in her testimony, according to video reviewed by the Post.