Fact Check

Did Actor Jay Johnston Participate in US Capitol Riot?

One of his best known roles was as the voice of Jimmy Pesto on the animated show "Bob's Burgers."

Published March 5, 2021

Updated June 8, 2023
Image courtesy of FBI
Actor Jay Johnston was photographed at the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Johnston was arrested on June 7, 2023, on charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

On March 4, 2021, the FBI posted a photograph on social media of a person who allegedly took part in the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6. As this picture started to circulate, some social media users chimed in to say that the man looked like Jay Johnston, an actor who had roles on shows such as "Bob's Burgers," "Mr. Show," and the "Sarah Silverman Program."

At the time, the identity of the person in the photograph could not be definitively confirmed. The FBI's list of all the people arrested for their participation in the Capitol attack had been updated on March 1, and Johnston's name was not on it. 

However, more than two years later, on June 7, 2023, Johnston was arrested by the FBI on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack, and it was confirmed that the person in the photograph was him.

The arrest also confirmed what a number of Johnston's television peers had said in messages posted on social media shortly after the Capitol riot. 

For instance, comedian Tim Heidecker, who worked with Johnston on the HBO show "With Bob and David," wrote on Twitter that it had been "confirmed" through "reliable sources":

Heidecker later deleted this tweet and said that this "shouldn't be used as some kind of official source of information or verification." 

Two other actors, Spencer Crittenden and Cassandra Church, who both work on the show "Harmontown," also posted messages saying that Johnston had attended the rally, and that he was a supporter of former President Donald Trump. Johnston also once appeared on Proud Boy founder Gavin McInnes' show.

NPR reported that Johnston "faces charges of obstructing officers during civil disorder, which is a felony. He also faces several misdemeanor charges, including unlawful entry on restricted buildings or grounds."


Shivaram, Deepa. "DOJ Charges 'Arrested Development' Actor Jay Johnston for Involvement in Jan. 6 Riot." NPR, 7 June 2023. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2023/06/07/1180887622/doj-charges-arrested-development-actor-jay-johnston-for-involvement-in-jan-6-rio.


Update [June 8, 2023]: Added news of Johnston's arrest and changed fact check rating to "True."

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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