As part of a plea agreement, an attorney who formerly represented President Donald Trump has informed Georgia prosecutors that she was notified, following the 2020 election, that Trump had intentions of remaining in the White House despite his electoral defeat and unsuccessful challenges.
This disclosure, among others, emerged during a confidential interview with the attorney, Jenna Ellis, conducted by Fulton County investigators. ABC News has obtained portions of the proffer sessions for Ellis and Sidney Powell, both attorneys who assisted Trump’s attempts to contest the election. These videos offer insights into what they’ve shared with law enforcement since cooperating in the district attorney’s election interference case.
During her session, Ellis revealed that Dan Scavino, a senior Trump White House official, conveyed that “the boss” would resist leaving the White House despite losing the election. She alluded to two additional instances deemed “relevant” to prosecutors, but attorney-client privilege prevented her from disclosing those details in the video excerpts obtained by ABC News.
Powell outlined her plans to seize voting machines nationwide and asserted frequent communication with Trump during her efforts to overturn the election. However, both now deny her role as Trump’s attorney.
In the video, Powell maintained the false claim that Trump won the election but admitted her limited knowledge of election law, emphasizing her background as a prosecutor and asserting her understanding of fraud.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s office, Ellis, Powell’s attorneys, and Scavino did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.
Trump’s lead counsel in the Fulton County case, Steve Sadow, dismissed Ellis’s conversation as “absolutely meaningless,” emphasizing that Trump left the White House on January 20, 2021.
These revelations come amid an investigation led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who Trump has criticized as politically motivated. Trump and 18 others pleaded not guilty in August to charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. Ellis and Powell and two other defendants have agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges and cooperate to avoid jail time.
‘We are just going to stay in power’
Ellis, once a steadfast ally of Trump, frequently appeared in the media and prominent legislative settings, disseminating unfounded claims of election fraud following the 2020 election. Federal Election Commission records show that the Trump campaign compensated her nearly $195,000 for legal services rendered from 2019 to 2021.
In a video capturing the October 23 proffer session with prosecutors, Ellis recounted an alleged conversation with one of Trump’s top White House aides, Dan Scavino, at a White House Christmas party weeks after the 2020 election. In response to her expressing regret over their legal setbacks, she claimed that Scavino enthusiastically stated that “the boss is not going to leave under any circumstances.”
During the proffer session, Ellis emphasized that this exchange occurred after a Supreme Court defeat, signaling the end of their legal avenues to challenge the election. She recalled Scavino’s words, stating, “The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power.”
Despite acknowledging the presence of alcohol at the party, Ellis asserted that it did not impact Scavino’s mindset or her recollection of the event.
Ellis informed prosecutors that Scavino’s prompt disclosure following the Supreme Court loss suggested a seriousness about discussions he had with Trump. Her account aligns with earlier reporting by The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who detailed Trump’s remarks to aides about not leaving in her book.
Former Georgia prosecutor Chris Timmons, an ABC News contributor, noted that while Ellis’ testimony could aid prosecutors, it might not be definitive evidence, as the comment did not directly come from the former president. Timmons stated that assuming consistency in Ellis’ testimony at trial it could support the prosecution’s claim that Trump conspired to influence the election results unlawfully. However, he emphasized that this evidence alone may not be decisive.
‘Rudy called me every name in the book’
After Powell agreed to a plea deal in Georgia on October 19, Trump swiftly used social media to distance himself from her. On Trump Social, he wrote, “Despite the Fake News reports to the contrary, and without even reaching out to ask the Trump Campaign, MS. POWELL WAS NOT MY ATTORNEY, AND NEVER WAS.” Powell, through her lawyer before the plea deal, also asserted that she never represented Trump or his campaign, as reported by The New York Times.
However, despite these disavowals, Powell detailed in her proffer interview that she had frequent and direct contact with then-President Trump. She claimed to have received numerous calls from Trump, seeking updates on their efforts to challenge the election, even as the Trump campaign distanced itself from her in November 2020.
During her proffer session, Powell expressed regret to Trump about the lack of success in their legal challenges. She mentioned filing cert petitions but acknowledged the unfavorable outlook for their cases. Powell noted Trump’s persistent interest in uncovering fraud that could alter the election results.
Powell also recounted multiple meetings with Trump, his top advisers, and the campaign, including her perspective on the infamous December 18, 2020, meeting in the White House Oval Office. In this meeting, Trump and advisers allegedly discussed seizing voting machines as part of their strategy to contest the election.
According to Powell, Trump expressed a willingness to appoint her as special counsel, granting her significant legal powers. She described a conversation where Trump sought confirmation from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who reportedly affirmed Trump’s authority to make such an appointment. Despite a potential hurdle related to security clearance, Powell claimed Trump was undeterred, with Cipollone indicating the authority to grant clearance.
Powell believed Trump wanted her to pursue the seizure of voting machines, citing a draft executive order Trump considered but did not sign. The order aimed to empower the Director of National Intelligence to assess foreign interference in the election.
Although Powell acknowledged the unlikelihood of the special counsel appointment, she claimed to follow up with Mark Meadows the next day, humorously asking about picking up her badge and key.
Powell also described a contentious meeting with Meadows and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, characterized by a heated argument. Giuliani allegedly berated Powell, calling her names and declaring an unwillingness to collaborate. Powell recalled the encounter as a tumultuous episode in their efforts to challenge the election results.
‘If I was right, he would remain president’
In the portions of her proffer interview obtained by ABC News, Powell discussed her direct conversations and meetings with Trump, emphasizing that she never heard him concede the election despite being informed by key aides that he had. According to Powell, Trump relied on his “instincts,” steadfastly believing he had been defrauded and that the election was a significant fraud.
Powell acknowledged being present when multiple advisers conveyed to Trump that he had lost. Prosecutors questioned Powell on why the president followed her advice over that of his other advisers.
“I didn’t think he had lost,” Powell asserted, emphasizing her belief in an avenue that, if proven correct, would enable Trump to remain president.
In his remarks to ABC News, former prosecutor Timmons noted that the partial video review of Powell’s sessions could potentially aid the defense. Powell appeared to believe in the existence of election fraud genuinely and communicated that conviction to Trump, reinforcing the defense’s argument that the former president believed he was acting within the bounds of the law.
Regarding the events leading up to the January 6 Capitol attack, Powell recalled expressing the need to leave Washington, D.C., to “everybody” as she deemed the situation unfavorable. She viewed the idea of a rally at the end of Trump’s presidency as ill-advised and discouraged people from participating. Powell reiterated these sentiments in her deposition with the House Select Jan. 6 committee, emphasizing her caution against encouraging individuals to attend the rally.
“There are several people that had plans to come up that I told not to come, and they didn’t,” Powell disclosed in the proffer video.
‘Shielded from the general public’
In the proffer session, Ellis hinted at two instances she deemed “very relevant” to prosecutors. However, in the portions of the video obtained by ABC News, she seemed constrained by attorney-client privilege, preventing her from divulging specific details and limiting amounts of her proffer.
The first instance involved a private conversation with another attorney while Rudy Giuliani was in the bathroom following their joint appearance at a legislative hearing in Georgia in early December 2020. During that hearing, Giuliani pressed officials to alter election results, citing a video falsely claiming that election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Freeman Moss manipulated vote counts. The Freemans later won a defamation lawsuit against Giuliani.
Regarding the second instance, Ellis conveyed to prosecutors her belief that information about the alleged fake elector plot was intentionally kept from her. This plot, purportedly orchestrated by Trump and allies in seven swing states, aimed to produce and submit fake certificates certifying alternative electors to secure Trump’s Electoral College victory in those states.
However, in the proffer video excerpts, prosecutors intervened to prevent Ellis from providing detailed information on these topics, citing concerns related to attorney-client privilege. Consequently, Ellis did not disclose specifics about these interactions, underscoring the limitations on her ability to cooperate with prosecutors.
Notably, in the obtained video segments, Ellis did not discuss any personal conversations with Trump. Instead, she alternated between on and off-the-record discussions with prosecutors, delving into the context surrounding the two undisclosed incidents. She mentioned learning about the fake elector’s plot from Giuliani and Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn.
During her proffer interview, Ellis did not provide details of the phone call initiated by Epshteyn, as prosecutors intervened. A day after this session, she entered a guilty plea in Fulton County court, expressing regret for her involvement in challenging the election.
“If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,” Ellis tearfully admitted to the judge. “I look back on this experience with deep remorse.”