Jenna Ellis – the Donald Trump lawyer who like the former president faces criminal charges regarding attempted election subversion in his defeat by Joe Biden in 2020 – says she will not vote for him in the future because he is a “malignant narcissist” who cannot admit mistakes.

“I simply can’t support him for elected office again,” Ellis said. “Why I have chosen to distance is because of that frankly malignant narcissistic tendency to simply say that he’s never done anything wrong.”

Ellis, 38, was speaking on her show on American Family Radio, a rightwing evangelical network run by the American Family Association, a non-profit that by its own description has been “on the frontlines of America’s culture war” since 1977.

Ellis was one of 18 Trump associates charged with him in Georgia over attempts to overturn Biden’s victory there. Charged with violating state anti-racketeering laws and solicitation of violation of an oath by a public officer, she was granted $100,000 bail and pleaded not guilty.

Trump pleaded not guilty to 13 racketeering and conspiracy charges.

Denying all wrongdoing and claiming political persecution, he also faces four federal counts related to election subversion; 40 federal counts related to retention of classified information; 34 state counts in New York over hush-money payments; and civil cases including a $250m lawsuit lodged by the New York attorney general over his business affairs and a defamation claim arising from a rape allegation a judge said was “substantially true”.

Nonetheless, Trump leads polling regarding the 2024 Republican presidential primary by vast margins, in national and key state surveys.

Ellis is a former counsel for the Thomas More Society, a conservative Catholic group, whose claims to be a constitutional lawyer have been widely doubted.

Described by the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman as “a lawyer whom Trump sought out after seeing her television commentary”, in 2020 Ellis rose from relative obscurity to become part of what she called an “elite strike force team” working to overturn Trump’s defeat by Biden.

That effort failed. American Family Radio signed up Ellis in December last year. On her show on Thursday, she spoke to Steve Deace, another rightwing host.

Deace said: “Before that man [Trump] needs to be president again … [to] escape the quote-unquote, ‘witch-hunts’, that man needs Jesus again because … his ambitions would be fueled by showing some self-awareness. And he won’t do it because he can’t admit, ‘I’m not God.’”

Ellis said Deace had “perfectly articulated exactly how I as a voter feel”. She knew Trump well “as a friend, as a former boss”, she said, adding: “I have great love and respect for him personally.

“But everything that you just said resonates with me as exactly why I simply can’t support him for elected office again. Why I have chosen to distance is because of that, frankly, malignant narcissistic tendency to simply say that he’s never done anything wrong.

“And the total idolatry that I’m seeing from some of the supporters that are unwilling to put the constitution and the country and the conservative principles above their love for a star is really troubling.

“And I think that we do need to, as Americans and as conservatives and particularly as Christians, take this very seriously and understand where are we putting our vote.”