EXCLUSIVE: House Speaker Mike Johnson's 'adopted' 40-year-old son Michael ... trends now
The 'adopted' black son of new House Speaker Mike Johnson has spoken out for the first time in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com.
Michael Tirrell James said he would ‘probably be in prison’ were it not for Johnson – after he appeared in a Los Angeles court Wednesday on charges of running an illegal cannabis business and possessing brass knuckles.
James has never taken part in publicity for Johnson's political campaigns, and little has been known about the 40-year-old father of four.
James went on to have a string of conflicts with law enforcement, beginning just a few years after the Johnsons took him in, and continuing to this day.
His rap sheet extends back to 2003 and includes a long list of drug-related and other petty crimes, some of which landed him in jail, DailyMail.com can reveal.
House Speaker Mike Johnson's 'adopted' son Michael Tirrell James – pictured in mugshots through the years – appeared in LA court Wednesday to provide proof he was working on completing his community service
The newly elected House Speaker – who is just 11 years his 'adopted' son's senior – has previously spoken about taking in James when he and his wife were newlyweds and Michael was a teen
Johnson's surprise election as Speaker led to increased scrutiny and renewed questions about his 'adopted' son
The 51-year-old House Speaker, elected October 25 after three weeks of confusion following the ousting of previous Speaker Kevin McCarthy, has revealed he informally adopted James, a Baton Rouge then-teenager, and raised him during the first few years of his marriage.
James told DailyMail.com: ‘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 Louisiana Republican congressman first met James in 1996 while volunteering with Young Life, a Christian ministry catering to middle and high school teens.
The future speaker, then a 24-year-old law school student, became a mentor for the 14-year-old boy, a source close to the Speaker’s office said.
When James became homeless in 1999 age 16, newlyweds Mike and Kelly Johnson took him in, filing papers with the local Baton Rouge district court to become his legal guardians.
His life appears to have gotten back on track after the informal adoption. He earned his G.E.D. and graduated from a Job Corps program in 2002, and even ‘began to refer to the Johnsons as his parents, and they regarded him as a son,’ the source said.
The Johnsons later had four biological children: Jack, Will, Hannah, and Abigail.
Residency records show James lived with the Johnsons at the first home they owned, a three-bed cottage on Chasefield Avenue in Baton Rouge which the politician inherited from his mother in 2000.
But after the family moved back to Shreveport, James’s legal troubles began.
DailyMail.com can reveal James's rap sheet dates back to 2003 and includes a long list of drug-related and other petty crimes
His long and troubled history with law enforcement began just a few years after the Johnsons informally adopted him around 1999 and continues today
Papers from Los Angeles Superior Court reveal James was charged in June last year with two counts of 'unlicensed commercial cannabis activity', and possession of 'metal knuckles or brass knuckles'
He spent time living with his older brother and his biological mother, appearing on residency records in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida.
From 2003 through 2010, James was convicted in Volusia County, Florida, of a series of petty crimes including possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, trespassing, retail theft, possession of a concealed weapon, driving without a license, and violating a restraining order preventing him seeing a 16-year-old girl he was 'dating' when he was 23.
While the childhoods of the Johnson's four biological kids were documented in family photos posted on Facebook, James was not among them.
His 20s are instead pictured in a series of more than a dozen mugshots for his numerous arrests.
In recent years James moved to Los Angeles, where he is raising his own four children.
His criminal record continued there too.
Papers from Los Angeles Superior Court reveal James was charged in June last year with two counts of 'unlicensed commercial cannabis activity', and possession of 'metal knuckles or brass knuckles'.
He was due to appear before a judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday but in the end his case was dealt with by his court-appointed attorney, who previously pleaded not guilty on his behalf.
The judge decided to 'divert' the charges, allowing them to be dropped after 12 months if James served 20 hours of community service and avoided employment at any cannabis farms.
A source close to the Speaker’s office said he is currently working as a Certified Nurse Assistant.
‘I always felt loved like I was a part of their family, James told DailyMail.com. 'They have been there for me when I have been lost and in the deepest valleys, and I know it was hard at times to constantly help someone who didn’t always get it right.
‘I thank God all the time for giving them both the strength, patience, and unwavering faith that inspired me to do better and be better.
'I respect, love, and admire them both.’
Speaker Johnson told DailyMail.com that he believes ‘God intended for Michael to be a part of our lives.’
‘Kelly and I have always seen him as one of