IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Feds want 90-day prison term for Jan. 6 rioter photographed with Pelosi's lectern

Adam Johnson's actions during the attack on the U.S. Capitol show "a sense of entitlement and privilege," prosecutors said.
Image: Adam Johnson
Adam Johnson carries House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern through the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Win McNamee / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 defendant who bragged that he "broke the internet" and was "finally famous" when a photo of him carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern during the Capitol attack went viral should spend 90 days in federal prison, Justice Department prosecutors argued ahead of his sentencing.

Adam Johnson, a Florida stay-at-home dad of five boys ranging from 6 to 14, was photographed carrying Pelosi's lectern in the Capitol rotunda during the Jan. 6 attack. He's scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Friday morning.

In a sentencing memo, federal prosecutors said Johnson's actions on Jan. 6 showed a "sense of entitlement and privilege" and that the infamous podium photograph "portrays Johnson as confident, arguably gleeful, while converting government property to his own use during an unlawful siege of the Capitol."

They pointed out that Johnson's wife is a doctor, and the family's "financial situation is so favorable that Johnson has not had to work for the past 11 years," so he should also be able to afford a significant fine.

"In addition, Johnson has privately retained not one, but two, reputable attorneys. Surely, then, he can afford a substantial fine to reimburse taxpayers for his part in the mob that caused significant damage to the United States Capitol and has resulted in enormous burdens on the criminal justice system," they wrote.

Justice Department prosecutors also revealed messages they said Johnson sent in the aftermath of Jan. 6, when they said he "deleted the media items pertaining to the Capitol riot from his phone as well as his Facebook account."

Johnson, prosecutors wrote, sent messages to friends and family in which he "bragged that he 'broke the internet' and was 'finally famous,' presumably in reference to the photo of himself carrying the podium that went viral."

Johnson, his attorneys claimed, "deeply regrets his participation in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021." They say the "life-changing decision" he made to enter the Capitol has negatively impacted his family, and they asked the court to "consider the significant and negative impact that incarceration would have on his sons." They argued that he wouldn't have received as much attention had he grabbed some other podium during the Capitol attack.

"Unfortunately, he received considerable attention simply because the lectern belonged to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi," they wrote. "Arguably, if he latched onto some other piece of government furniture for his photo opportunity jail time would not even be a consideration."

The FBI has made more than 740 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election and keep him in office. There are more than 350 people on the FBI's Capitol Violence website who are still wanted, and the total number of people who could be charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack is more than 2,500.