WASHINGTON — A Texas real estate agent who infamously claimed her blonde hair and white skin would keep her out of jail was sentenced Thursday to 60 days behind bars for her role in the January 6 Capitol riot.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper told Jenna Ryan, of Frisco, Texas, it was clear she knew what she was doing when she left her hotel to travel to the Capitol after watching coverage of the riot on Fox News.
“You knew it when you walked out of your hotel room and said, ‘We’re going to war and we’re going to be breaking windows,’” Cooper said.
Ryan and several friends – including two, Jason Hyland and Katherine Schwab, who have been charged in the January 6 case – took a private jet from Texas to attend former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. At the Capitol, Ryan entered the building with other members of the mob and was later filmed at the front of a crowd encouraging the assault. She also posed for a photo next to a broken window, which she posted with the caption, “Window at The capital [sic]. And if the news doesn’t stop lying about us we’re going to come after their studios next…”
After returning to Texas, Ryan did a number of interviews with the media, including one with NBC in which she claimed she felt “like a martyr” and another with Fox in which she described her presence at the Capitol as “something noble.” Ryan, who has a large social media following, also posted multiple times about her role in the riot, saying in one message, “I deserve a medal for what I did.”
In her most infamous post, Ryan responded to another Twitter user that 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.”
In court Thursday, her attorney, Guy Womack, attempted to downplay the significance of her posts.
“She’s a social butterfly,” Womack said. “She goes online and posts things.”
Cooper said he had to take those posts – and a letter Ryan wrote to him that talked more about her social media following than her regret for what she’d done – into account, but he also noted that it wasn’t her posts or her interviews that he was sentencing her for.
“No one is being prosecuted for coming to Washington,” Cooper said. “No one is being prosecuted for the belief that the election was stolen. If you had the good sense not to leave your hotel room, or not go in once you saw what was happening, you wouldn’t be here.”
In part because of the attention her own media appearances drew to the case, Cooper said people would be looking to her sentence to see what the penalty was for attacking democratic institutions.
“I think that sentence should show them we take it seriously,” he said.
Cooper ultimately agreed with the Justice Department’s recommended sentence and ordered Ryan to serve 60 days behind bars. She will also have to pay the standard $500 in restitution required in all January 6 misdemeanor plea deals.
Ryan pleaded guilty in August to one Class “B” misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. She is one of more than 100 defendants who have now entered guilty pleas in connection to the riot.
After her sentencing Thursday, Ryan and her attorney spoke with WUSA9 Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Flack. She told him she was remorseful she entered the Capitol "for two minutes," and then blamed the media attention around her case for her sentence.
"I’m disappointed that I’m being used as an example, because other people that walked in for two minutes may not have the same thing, but because I’m a public person and I have a Twitter account, I’m being punished for that," Ryan said. "Because the media are doing what you’re all doing now, I’m being punished for this. And it’s actually causing my incarceration. I think that’s a travesty. I think that everybody should be able to tweet without being persecuted and treated like crap.”
Asked if she wishes she hadn't posted some of the things she did, Ryan said yes.
"Yes, I regret ever tweeting," she said.
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