Crime

North Texas Realtor Jenna Ryan Pleads Guilty over U.S. Capitol Riot

Real estate broker Jenna Ryan said she was following former President Donald Trump's orders when she went to the Capitol riots.
Real estate broker Jenna Ryan said she was following former President Donald Trump's orders when she went to the Capitol riots. "Dallas SEO/SEM Meetup - Linkbuilding Tips" by Levelten Interactive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
On Jan. 6, North Texas realtor Jennifer "Jenna" Ryan didn’t mince words. Along with two fellow real estate brokers and Trump supporters, she had flown to Washington via private plane. Once at the U.S. Capitol, they allegedly joined the hundreds-strong crowd who raided the building.

The crowd included hardline Trump supporters, white nationalists, QAnon conspiracy theorists and militiamen, among others. By the end of the day, the riot had turned deadly.

Meanwhile, Ryan livestreamed herself during the insurrection and posed for photos in front of busted-out windows. “We just stormed the Capital [sic],” Ryan, now 51, tweeted that day. “It was one of the best days of my life."

Best day of her life or not, it’s continued to haunt her for the last eight months. Not long after the riot, the FBI nabbed Ryan and hit her with several charges.


On Thursday, Ryan pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of parading, picketing or demonstrating in the Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper accepted Ryan’s plea and scheduled an in-person sentencing hearing for Nov. 4. The charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Ryan’s codefendants, real estate agents Katherine Schwab and Jason Lee Hyland, have thus far pleaded not guilty.

Throughout the last eight months, the FBI field office in Dallas has arrested 31 people over the riot, spokesperson Katie Chaumont said Thursday.


Shortly after the riot, Ryan made the media rounds. She insisted that she didn’t know of the violence taking place at the Capitol and that she had only walked into the building and looked around.

For months, she waffled between defending her actions as a patriotic “duty” and blaming former President Donald Trump for the “Big Lie,” the conspiracy theory that the November 2020 elections had been rigged in Joe Biden’s favor.

"I was doing my duty for my president." - Jenna Ryan

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“I was doing my duty, OK?” she told Fox4 in January. "I was doing my duty for my president."

Later, she told the Washington Post that Donald Trump was to blame. "I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it's embarrassing," she said. "I regret everything."

At one point, she called on Trump to pardon her and other alleged rioters, but no such pardon ever came.

Since first making national headlines earlier this year, Ryan has prompted criticism and derision on social media time and again.

In March, she replied to a Twitter critic who said she would end up behind bars, insisting that her white skin and blond hair meant she was “definitely not going to jail.”

“Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I'm not going to jail,” she tweeted. “Sorry to rain on your hater parade. I did nothing wrong.”

The federal government has charged more than 600 people with a wide range of crimes related to the Capitol riot. To date, dozens have pleaded guilty.

In February, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to make the Capitol riot one of his primary focuses.

"I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government," he said during his confirmation hearing.
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.