A Minnesota man accused of taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol has pleaded guilty, admitting he helped rush a line of police officers in order to open the building's doors, allowing more rioters to come in.
Daniel Johnson, from Austin, agreed to plead guilty to one count of civil disorder, according to court documents filed Tuesday. It's a felony charge that prosecutors added to his case in December, on top of the four lesser offenses he'd initially been charged with in June 2021.
The civil disorder charges accuse the 29-year-old of obstructing, interfering with or impeding a United States Capitol police officer on Jan. 6. His father — Daryl Johnson of St. Ansgar, Iowa — faced the same criminal charges and agreed to a similar plea deal on the same civil disorder count.
As part of the plea agreement, Daniel Johnson admits that the U.S. could prove in court, "beyond a reasonable doubt," that he did the following:
- Entered the Capitol building with his father at around 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, by climbing through a broken window next to the Senate Wing Door on the west side of the building.
- Took the stairs to the second floor, where a line of police officers stood blocking the entrance to the East Rotunda, at which point Johnson and a group of rioters, "rushed the line of law enforcement officers."
- Helped push through the officers so the group could then open the East Rotunda doors, which allowed more rioters to stream into the Capitol.
- Was at or near the front of the group that pushed through the officers and opened the doors.
- Left the Capitol after 26 minutes, and was with his father the entire time.
The plea documents also lay out social media posts made by Johnson. He wrote "F*** Biden" on Facebook one day prior to the riots, then after the Capitol siege sent a message to a Snapchat user saying he "was one of the first ones inside" and describing it as "f****** wild." He also told the person he "was trying to find a way into the chamber."
On Jan. 7, Johnson posted: "Trump 2020!!!"
The four less-serious charges against Johnson will be dismissed, though by agreeing to plead guilty, Johnson admits those allegations were "based in fact." He also agreed to participate in an interview with investigators that are probing the Jan. 6 insurrection, some time prior to his sentencing. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 12.
The civil disorder charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, though Johnson appears in line to get a fraction of that. Under the terms of the plea agreement, his sentence will likely fall between zero and six months in prison, with a fine of $2,000-$20,000.
His father Daryl Johnson faces the same possible sentence.
A total of 704 people, eight of them from Minnesota, have been charged in connection with Jan. 6, 2021. More than one in five suspects have pleaded guilty.
The siege of the Capitol building occurred as Congress was scheduled to count electoral votes and confirm President Joe Biden's victory. Armed participants stormed the building, smashing windows and prompting a lockdown as aides and lawmakers hid in fear.