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Smiling Florida Man Who Carried Nancy Pelosi’s Podium Through U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 Pleads Guilty to Federal Crime

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump protester carries the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Roturnda of the U.S. Capitol Building after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (

Adam Johnson parades through the U.S. Capitol with a podium on Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.)

The man photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s podium through the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 has pleaded guilty to entering and remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority. According to federal court documents, Adam Johnson copped the plea on Monday.

Johnson, then 36, of Parrish, Fla., was identified by acquaintances on social media after a Getty Images photographer captured an image of him waiving to a camera while carrying a podium emblazoned with the seal of the speaker through the U.S. Capitol. His image was one of the first disseminated on Jan. 6, as a pro-Trump crowd attempted to beat its way past police lines and into the Capitol to stymie the counting of electoral college votes  that went in favor of President Joe Biden.

statement of facts filed by federal prosecutors said the FBI compared the now-infamous Getty Images photo and social media screenshots contained in news articles with Johnson’s driver’s license photo. The license photo was “reasonably believe[d]” to be a match to the man in the Getty Images and social media posts, an agent wrote.

A screen shot of Adam Johnson’s social media posts is contained within court papers compiled by the FBI and filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Additional court documents filed with the guilty plea outline Johnson’s activities on and surrounding the Jan. 6 siege. From a Statement of Offense — which Johnson himself admitted was factually correct as part of the plea:

On January 5,2021, JOHNSON traveled to Washington, D.C. from Tampa, Florida, accompanied by his friend, Person 1, to attend a political rally on January 6, 2021. At the time he traveled, JOHNSON was aware that the Electoral College votes would be counted the next day at the U.S. Capitol.

On January 6, 2021, at approximately 8:30 a.m., JOHNSON and Person I walked to a political rally in support of former President Trump. JOHNSON brought a Kershaw folding Knife with him from the hotel but discarded it in some bushes near the Canadian Embassy.

At the rally, JOHNSON listened to several speeches, including by former President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and an unknown older member of Congress—the latter whom JOHNSON heard stating that it was time for action and violence. In response to these comments, JOHNSON saw members of the crowd nodding their heads in agreement.

The document continues by outlining Johnson’s observations among the violent confrontation outside the Capitol. There, he saw several people he knew, including friends from a “jiu jitsu gym that he frequents.” The narrative continues from inside the Capitol:

At approximately 2:28 p.m., JOHNSON saw a sign for Speaker Nanci Pelosi’s office suite and walked in that direction. JOHNSON walked to the end of the hall and tried to open a door that he believed was to Speaker Pelosi’s office, but it was locked. By that time, several of Speaker Pelosi’s staffers had barricaded themselves in a different office in that hallway. As he exited the hallway, JOHNSON walked over a broken wooden sign on the floor and witnessed a man grab and throw papers onto the floor.

Shortly thereafter, JOHNSON located a podium bearing a large seal of the Speaker of the House near a spiral staircase and carried it to the Capitol Rotunda. He did so because he believed it would make a good prop for a picture.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., upon entering the Rotunda with the podium, JOHNSON waved to a photographer with professional camera equipment, who ran up to take a picture of him. JOHNSON set the podium down in the center of the Rotunda, where he posed while yet another photographer with professional camera equipment took pictures of him. JOHNSON then asked a woman to take pictures of him standing behind the podium using his phone. The woman took several pictures of JOHNSON behind the podium while he gestured and pretended to make a speech. JOHNSON left the podium in the center of the room and exited the Rotunda.

The Statement of Offense adds that Johnson took a rental car back home to Florida rather than travel by plane because he apparently thought it would help cover his involvement in the Jan. 6 breach. He also deleted images from social media and deleted his Facebook account, the document indicates.

The crime to which Johnson is admitting carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine, but prosecutors wrote in a plea agreement that they were agreeing to a suggested lesser sentence because Johnson’s conduct “clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility, to the satisfaction of the Government.”

The plea agreement states that prosecutors estimate a sentence of between zero and six months and a fine of between $500 and $9,500 when all is said and done. A restitution of $500 is also contemplated and is payable to the architect of the Capitol. Total damage as a result of the Jan. 6 uprising is estimated at $1,495,326.55.

The plea agreement also contains an interesting clawback clause for any media proceeds:

In light of the defendant’s expressed intent to potentially profit off his illegal conduct on January 6, 2021 by writing a book, for a period of five years from the date his guilty plea is accepted, your client agrees to assign to the United States any remuneration or compensation he receives of any sort, directly or indirectly, for the dissemination through any means — including but not limited to books, articles, songs, scripts, speeches, blogs, podcasts, and interviews, however disseminated — of any statements or comments regarding the conduct encompassed by the Statement of Offense, or the investigation and prosecution by the Office for his conduct on January 6th, 2021. For this same period, your client also agrees to assign to the United States any renumeration or compensation he receives of any sort, directly or indirectly, for products, media or merchandise bearing his name, image or likeness that references or relate to his conduct on January 6, 2021, as encompassed by the Statement of Offense.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2022.

[Image from Capitol interior via Win McNamee/Getty Images; mugshot via Pinellas Co., Fla. Sheriff’s Department]

Read the Statement of Offense below:

Read the plea agreement below:

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.