Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey appeared on two shows this week hosted by a co-defendant of former President Donald Trump in the Georgia election interference case to tout the state’s new law restricting some forms of health care for transgender youth.
Bailey, a Republican, was interviewed twice by Jenna Ellis, a former lawyer to Trump who is under felony indictment over allegations she solicited public officials to violate their oaths of office by unlawfully appointing fake presidential electors. Trump, Ellis and 17 others have been accused of a sprawling conspiracy in Georgia to overturn the former president’s 2020 loss in the state.
During a podcast posted online Monday and a radio appearance Tuesday, Bailey and Ellis spoke about a St. Louis judge’s decision on Friday that allowed a new Missouri law restricting gender-affirming care to go into effect while a legal challenge against it proceeds. Neither commented on the Georgia case during the interviews.
But Bailey’s decision to go on the podcast is remarkable. Missouri’s chief legal officer, a role that at times involves prosecuting criminal cases, is appearing with an individual accused of committing a felony to advance a conspiracy to overturn a presidential election in another state.
“It is not often that you see the top law enforcement officer of a state appearing with someone credibly alleged to have participated in a racketeering entity and indicted on multiple felony counts related to overthrowing an election in particular,” Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law, wrote in an email.
“But this is no ordinary case and some partisan players, including elected officials, are liable to turn to their tribal allegiances because of the politics of the moment. One would hope that rather than circling the wagons with political allies, a state attorney general would want to wait and assess the evidence presented in a court of law,” Kreis wrote.
He added that there’s “surely a political benefit” to anyone eyeing a higher officer by playing to the base rather than waiting for facts to emerge.
Asked whether he had any concerns about the appropriateness of appearing with an individual under felony indictment, Bailey responded in a statement that he is “more concerned with the media’s presumption of guilt when everyone knows the criminal justice system requires a presumption of innocence.”
“The media should be reporting on the obvious two-tiered criminal justice system, with different standards being applied to Joe Biden’s political opponents,” Bailey said.
Bailey was appointed attorney general by Gov. Mike Parson after working as his general counsel and took office in January. He is locked in a competitive fight for the Republican nomination for attorney general with Will Scharf, a former federal prosecutor.
Bailey has pursued an agenda seemingly designed to delight conservative primary voters, including attempting unsuccessfully to restrict gender-affirming care through regulations and trying to slow down an initiative petition to restore access to abortion.
And like many GOP officials, Bailey has been dismissive of the latest indictment of Trump.
After a Georgia grand jury indicted Trump, Ellis and others earlier this month, Bailey attempted to paint the indictment as a First Amendment violation. He also promoted Missouri’s lawsuit alleging the White House violated the First Amendment by working with social media companies to suppress conservative viewpoints – part of a larger effort by Republicans to cast Biden and Democrats as attempting to muzzle them, whether through investigations or on social media.
The Georgia indictment brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis alleges that in early December 2020, Ellis – along with Trump lawyer and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, conservative lawyer John Eastman and Georgia-based attorney Ray Stallings Smith – solicited and requested Georgia state senators to unlawfully appoint presidential electors during a Georgia Senate Judiciary subcommittee meeting.
The indictment describes Ellis as urging state lawmakers in Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania to appoint fake presidential electors. It also alleges Ellis wrote a memo on Dec. 31, 2020, to Trump outlining a strategy for disrupting and delaying the Jan. 6, 2021 joint session of Congress to count electoral votes by urging Vice President Mike Pence to “not open any of the votes” from Georgia and six other states.
Pence resisted pressure from Trump and others to block the certification, ultimately leading Trump supporters to erect a gallows and search for the vice president when they stormed the Capitol that day.
“The Democrats and the Fulton County DA are criminalizing the practice of law. I am resolved to trust the Lord and I will simply continue to honor, praise, and serve Him,” Ellis tweeted following the indictment.
Ellis was censured in March by Colorado legal officials after admitting to making 10 “misrepresentations” on television and Twitter during Trump’s fight to stay in power following his 2020 election loss. In one instance, Ellis falsely said on Fox News that “we have over 500,000 votes (in Arizona) that were cast illegally.”
Republican lawmakers generally haven’t shied away from Trump in the aftermath of his four indictments, particularly as his legal troubles have appeared to draw increased support from the conservative base of the Republican Party. Among Missouri voters who don’t support President Joe Biden, 52% said they are most likely to support Trump, according to a Saint Louis University-YouGov poll released last week. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis comes in next, at 17% likely support.
Most lawmakers have defended Trump against the charges, calling the indictments politically motivated. Missouri’s U.S. Senators, both of whom served as Missouri attorney general before taking office, have repeatedly stood by the former president.
“I think Andrew Bailey’s doing the correct thing and he’s following in the footsteps of his predecessor in that office,” state Rep. Brian Seitz, a Branson Republican, said.
Sen. Eric Schmitt, who has endorsed Trump, has been dismissive of the cases, saying he believes lawyers are protecting Biden while prosecuting Trump. There are open Department of Justice investigations into Hunter Biden’s business deals and into Biden’s handling of classified documents.
Sen. Josh Hawley, who has said he believes Trump is the likely Republican nominee in 2024 but has not formally endorsed him, has openly accused the FBI and Department of Justice of a political attempt to take down the former president.
Bailey’s appearances on Ellis’s podcast, The Jenna Ellis Show, and on her radio show, Jenna Ellis in the Morning, came amid a victory tour touting the decision by St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer to deny a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking SB 49, the new state law restricting gender-affirming care.
Ellis said on the podcast that Missouri’s success offered a blueprint for other states to follow.
“I think that all 50 states should take your lead,” Ellis told Bailey.
The Associated Press contributed reporting