Jenna Ryan has seen the light.
For months, prominent Republican lawmakers falsely claimed widespread voter fraud caused the election to be stolen from former President Donald Trump, leading to the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Ryan was there, too, but now claims she realizes she was a political pawn.
“I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing,” the Frisco real estate broker said, according to an article published Wednesday by The Washington Post. “I regret everything.”
Ryan and several North Texas real estate agents took a private jet to Washington to attend the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. It quickly degenerated into the first attack on the U.S. Capitol since 1814, when British soldiers set fire to the building.
Although she initially denied entering the Capitol, Ryan had livestreamed her trek inside. She narrated the action to her social media followers while squeezed among a throng of fellow Trump supporters.
During another video, she told followers she’d be “breaking those windows.”
Now, Ryan faces four federal charges and potential prison time. During televised interviews last month, she pleaded with Trump to issue her a pardon; it never came.
On Wednesday, Ryan’s media appearances were used as evidence during Trump’s impeachment hearing. One Democratic lawmaker presented a clip of a Jan. 18 NBC News interview in which the broker said she went to the Capitol because she was following Trump’s orders.
She repeated that line to The Post.
“Not one patriot is standing up for me,” Ryan reportedly said. “I’m a complete villain. I was down there based on what my president said. ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost. I was there for him.”
The Observer has written about Ryan before, which she apparently hasn’t appreciated. So, when we reached out Thursday to learn more about her change of heart, our conversation went like this:
“Real estate office.”
“Hi Jenna, this is Simone Carter from the Dallas Observer. How are you?”
“Oh, really? I’m not good. Especially talking to you.”
“Well, I just saw the Washington Post article and wanted to reach out and ask you about a couple of the points that they made.”
“You know what you can do? Just take a big guess what you can do. Don’t call me again.”
“Wait, what do you mean what I c—”
She then hung up.
The Post reported that nearly 60% of 125 Capitol rioter defendants had shown signs of financial trouble, including bad debts, bankruptcies, unpaid taxes or eviction or foreclosure notices. Ryan was among them.
At the time of her arrest, she was paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes, according to that article. Ryan had also filed for bankruptcy in 2012, had another 2010 IRS tax lien and once faced foreclosure on her home.
Following her arrest, Ryan set up multiple fundraising accounts on sites like PayPal but was booted following widespread complaints. She’s still listed on the Christian crowdsourcing site GiveSendGo, which is also home to a legal defense fund for the alleged Kenosha shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse.
So far, Ryan has raised just 7% of her $10,000 GiveSendGo goal.
Despite asking social media followers for donations, Ryan claimed she didn't need the money and frequently tweeted about her wealth. In one January post, she wrote she'd paid $800 for lobster, steak and Champagne.
Many have criticized The Post's story, saying it gives people like Ryan an easy out. In a tweet, Democratic political strategist Atima Omara accused the outlet of excusing the Jan. 6 rioters’ actions.
“If economic anxiety was a valid case for insurrection?" Omara wrote, "A bunch of Black people and other people of color would have an excellent one.”