Trump & Rioters Have Something In Common: Financial Troubles
It turns out that Donald Trump and many of the rioters he incited to insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 have quite a bit in common: financial troubles. A Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 of the defendants charged thus far for their roles in the storming of the Capitol shows that 60 percent of them have a history of bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts and unpaid taxes.
That group of defendants’ bankruptcy rate of 18 percent is nearly twice as high as that of the general public. About 25 percent of them have been sued for money owed to a creditor and one in five at some point were at risk for losing their home, court filings show. The president they invaded the Capitol to support also has a long history of financial difficulties, having declared bankruptcy six times and having businesses seized by creditors.
One of the rioters is Jenna Ryan, the Texas real estate agent who posted social media photos of herself about to board a private jet to fly to Washington, D.C., to attend Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally. Despite that outward sign of affluence, Ryan, 50, has struggled financially for years. Public records show that she currently is paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012, was hit with another federal tax lien in 2010 and almost lost her home to foreclosure. She was arrested and faces multiple charges for her role in the riot.
A professor at American University in Washington, D.C., says that Trump’s angry brand of grievance politics appears to have tapped into something that resonated with his political “base” and those who violently attacked the Capitol.
“I think what you’re finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation,” Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor who helps run the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University, told The Post. “And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.”
When Ryan went to Washington for the rally she says she truly believed Trump’s false claims that the election had been stolen from him. Shortly after her arrest she said that she and other rioters should be pardoned by Trump. But that never happened and now she’s facing federal criminal charges and feeling abandoned and betrayed by Trump and those she once considered “fellow patriots.” “I bought into a lie,” she said, “and the lie is the lie and it’s embarrassing. I regret everything.”