January 6 rioter who carried Nancy Pelosi’s podium fined and sentenced

The Capitol rioter who was pictured carrying Nancy Pelosi’s lectern and bragged he had “broken the internet” in doing so has been sentenced to 75 days in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Adam Johnson, 37 and from Florida, was photographed carrying the podium on 6 January 2021.

He and other supporters of Donald Trump stormed Congress in an attempt to stop certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, in service of Trump’s lie that his defeat was the result of electoral fraud.

More than 700 have been charged over the riot, 11 with seditious conspiracy. Trump was impeached but acquitted. He and his aides are the subject of an investigation by a House select committee. One aide, Steve Bannon, has pleaded not guilty to criminal contempt of Congress, a charge that carries jail time.

Johnson will spend time in jail, having pleaded guilty to entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.

The US Department of Justice requested 90 days’ imprisonment. It also noted, in itemising Johnson’s activities on 6 January 2021, that he “witnessed rioters attempt to break down the doors to the House chamber and encouraged them to do so by shouting that a bust of George Washington would make ‘a great battering ram’”.

In court on Friday, assistant US attorney Jessica Arco said: “Mr Johnson was part of a mob. He knew that.”

Lawyers for Johnson said of his viral photograph: “Unfortunately, he received considerable attention simply because the lectern belonged to Speaker of the House. Arguably, if he latched on to some other piece of government furniture for his photo opportunity jail time would not even be a consideration.”

The judge, Reggie B Walton, disagreed.

“We’re on a dangerous slide in America,” he said, calling January 6 something he would ordinarily expect to see in “banana republics”.

Johnson said he was ashamed, and suggested that if he had acted as he did in other countries he might have ended up in front of a firing squad “instead of [in] a courtroom”.

He also said he never intended to hurt Pelosi and said: “If I did find her, I would ask for a selfie with her, if anything.”

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