Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted a graphic on Tuesday that sought to swipe at liberals using a quote from former President Theodore Roosevelt.
When Twitter users brought that to the lawyer’s attention, she did not delete the misinformation but instead defended her choice to share it while knowing it was untrue.
“For people asking, this quotation has been attributed to Roosevelt, but there isn’t a specific record of him saying this in a speech,” she wrote. “I posted it because the ifea itself is true, whether or not he said it! :).”
It has only been “attributed” to Roosevelt in internet misinformation ― in memes, on discussion boards and social media. Multiple organizations that commemorate and archive Roosevelt’s life and work have no record of any such quote ever being said.
In recent weeks, Ellis has been a leading member of President Donald Trump’s extensive legal efforts to overturn his election loss. In concert with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Ellis and the Trump campaign legal team provided a stream of bizarre and baseless conspiracy theories about widespread electoral fraud. Their legal challenges have flamed out case after case.
The lawyer’s strange interpretation of the truth in Wednesday’s tweet gave Twitter critics some food for thought, and fodder for memes.
"My quote about the truth may not be true, but you have to admit, there is some truth to the lie in my fake thing about how much I get mad about lies"
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) November 25, 2020
“I never actually said this, but, Jenna Ellis is an objectively bad lawyer.”
You’re right, Jenna, THIS IS FUN! pic.twitter.com/8MlDBEIgVI
— Santa Claus, CEO (@SantaInc) November 25, 2020
"I'm an embarrassment to the legal profession." - Jenna Ellis
*For people asking, this quotation has been attributed to Jenna but there's no record of her saying it. I posted it because the idea itself is true. https://t.co/SmWhoMDqE4
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) November 25, 2020
This is an unusually explicit example of the psychological strategy Daniel Effron wrote about in 2018 where Trump supporters defend lies and falsehoods by encouraging "people to reflect on how the falsehoods could have been true." https://t.co/auI2CzKXYD https://t.co/30SwMvr7xV
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) November 25, 2020
"I'm really bad at lawyering, but I couldn't pass up the payday from Trump to lose a bunch of court cases." - Jenna Ellis
There's no record of her saying this. I posted it because the ifea itself is true, whether or not she said it! :) https://t.co/2reoQ3fKVM
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) November 25, 2020
— Ted Roosevelt V (@RooseveltTed) November 25, 2020
"Jenna Ellis is a goddamn moron." - George Washington https://t.co/MhEgjf5bqK
— Bad History Takes (@badhistorytakes) November 25, 2020
So updating this to be more accurate pic.twitter.com/hqK1eY4285
— Don "Big Chooch" Moynihan (@donmoyn) November 25, 2020
To anger a conservative, show them this actual TR quote.... pic.twitter.com/HuIKEl9OCm
— Dammed Writer (@DammedWriter) November 25, 2020
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.