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‘PowerHouse Patriot’ Who Held Capitol Rotunda Door Open for Jan. 6 Rioters Pleads Guilty to Felonies

George Tenney

George Tenney (photos via DOJ)

A South Carolina man who had physical confrontations with multiple police officers and a federal employee during the Jan. 6 melee at the U.S. Capitol has pleaded guilty to two felonies.

George Amos Tenney III, who is the administrator of a Facebook page called “The PowerHouse Patriot,” admitted Thursday that he breached the Capitol building despite knowing he wasn’t allowed to be there, and engaging in multiple physical encounters with police officers trying to beat back the crowd. Tenney was pictured holding doors open and encouraging rioters to breach the building.

The defendant pleaded guilty Thursday to civil disorder and obstructing an official proceeding, both felonies. The obstruction charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, and the civil disorder charge has a five-year maximum sentence.

In a plea agreement hearing before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, a Ronald Reagan appointee, Tenney admitted that he had made plans to travel to Washington, D.C., in order stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.

“It’s starting to look like we may siege the capital [sic] building and congress [sic] if the electoral votes dont [sic] go right,” Tenney said in a Facebook message on Dec. 28, 2020. “There’s a bunch going around, figured we should talk bout [sci] it. The people I’m going, we are forming plans for every scenario. What do you think?”

“Pence is a traitor and will betray the US on the 6th,” he said in a message on Dec. 29, 2020, referring to then-Vice President Mike Pence, who Donald Trump wrongly said had the authority to block the certification of the Electoral College vote.

During his time at the Capitol, Tenney would end up playing a key role in opening doors from inside the building, allowing at least one rioter to get inside and apparently push a federal employee.

According to the Statement of Offense, which details the actions Tenney admits to have taken that day, Tenney traveled from South Carolina to Washington, D.C., to attend Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally. Once there, he met Darrell Youngers — who would later be his co-defendant — and the two headed over to the Capitol building.

“[P]eople have just stormed the front of the Capitol building, through tear gas,” Younger said, describing the scene at the Capitol, according to the Statement of Offense. “People aren’t supposed to be up there, but they’re there.”

The two entered the building at 2:19 p.m., moments after the initial breach. Seeing rioters outside struggling against police, Tenney tried to force the Rotunda doors open from the inside, making “contact with multiple federal employees in the course of doing so.”

Tenney eventually succeeded in opening one of the doors, pushing back when a police officer outside tried to close it. At that point, an employee of the House Sergeant at Arms tried to intervene, pushing Tenney aside and trying to close the door.

“Tenney ran back to the door and grabbed the employee by the shoulder,” the Statement of Offense says. “Tenney and other rioters surrounded the employee, and a heated conversation began.”

As that was happening, a rioter from outside the doors had forced his way inside, pushing the House Sergeant at Arms employee away from the doors. Tenney stayed in the doorway.

After that, Tenney “locked arms” with a Capitol Police officer who was just outside the doors, and was briefly forced out of the East Foyer. That officer would later be thrown to the ground by a rioter while standing in the open doorway, trying to stop the crowd from entering the building.

Tenney returned seconds later and stood near an open door, “assist[ing] rioters entering the building, patting them on the back and helping them move forward toward the Rotunda,” the Statement of Offense said. When an officer tried to move him out of the way, Tenney pushed him aside. Tenney was eventually pulled back from the doorway and the Rotunda Doors were closed.

Pursuant to his plea agreement, Tenney has also agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution toward the estimated $2.7 million in damage to the Capitol. That’s four times the usual amount of $500 included in most of the Jan. 6 plea agreements so far.

The plea agreement contemplates a maximum 51 months in prison, based on a host of factors including the seriousness of Tenney’s actions, his acceptance of responsibility, and his lack of criminal history.

Youngers pleaded guilty in March to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. His sentencing is set for August.

Tenney’s sentencing was set for Oct. 20. At that time, the remaining charges against him — including assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers and a handful of trespass and disorderly conduct misdemeanors — will be dismissed.

Read the Statement of Offense here:

[Images via FBI court filing.]

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