House Speaker Mike Johnson’s adopted son, Michael James, has publicly praised the Louisiana Republican for being “there for me when I have been lost and in the deepest valleys.” James, 40, moved in with Johnson and his wife, Kelly, when he was a homeless teenager. Johnson, 51, who was elected as House speaker last month following several chaotic weeks for Republicans, has said that adopting James, who is black, helped shape his views on race in America, comparing it to the 2009 film The Blind Side.
In an interview with DailyMail.com, James praised the Johnson family for making him feel “loved like I was a part of their family,” while adding that he thanks “God all the time for giving them both the strength, patience, and unwavering faith that inspired me to do better and be better.” Shortly after Johnson’s ascension to the speakership, questions were raised online about his family’s relationship with James. Some even suggested that James might not be a real person, due in part to him not being featured alongside Johnson’s four biological children in campaign materials.
James credited the Johnsons, who are evangelical Christians, with keeping him out of prison in his DailyMail.com interview, saying: “If the Johnsons hadn’t taken me in as a teenager, my life would look very different today. I would probably be in prison, or I might not have made it at all.” The remarks were reportedly made shortly after James appeared Wednesday in a Los Angeles court, where he was facing charges of operating an illegal marijuana business and possessing brass knuckles. Johnson, only 11 years older than James, said that his adopted son was “doing great” and living in California with “four children of his own” during a 2020 interview with PBS journalist Walter Isaacson.
The then-future speaker credited his deeply religious family’s “intervention” with James having “a great family life” and staying away from gangs, drugs, and prison. Johnson is now facing criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Many Democrats have spoken out against the new speaker over his anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion rights views. Some supporters of former President Donald Trump’s MAGA movement, with which Johnson is also aligned, have expressed anger over his call to send aid to Israel amid the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.