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Weekday mornings on Michigan Radio, Doug Tribou hosts NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to news radio program in the country.

A year after the U.S. Capitol attack, Rep. Dingell looks back and forward

Security fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol after 6-January-2021
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After the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, security fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol after a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building hoping to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.

One year ago, a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, hoping to overturn Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election. Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell was on the floor of the U.S. House chamber when the siege began.

On Michigan Radio's Morning Edition the day after the attack, Dingell described the scene.

"We heard gunshots. There was pounding at the doors. You could start to smell tear gas, and then we were evacuated through back corridors and tunnels and lots of flights of stairs and taken to an undisclosed location for several hours."

"We heard gunshots. There was pounding at the doors. You could start to smell tear gas, and then we were evacuated through back corridors and tunnels and lots of flights of stairs and taken to an undisclosed location for several hours."
Rep. Debbie Dingell describing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol

In a new interview, one year after the insurrection, Dingell said she has deep concerns.

"I'm worried about what's happening in our country. This kind of anger, the vitriolicness, the division. What you saw play out in Congress is actually playing out in our communities across the country. And I would ask all of us to sort of use today to reflect upon how can we disagree with each other, but do so in a civil way," she said.

In the days ahead of the anniversary of the attack, many have warned that democracy in America and U.S. government institutions are at risk. Dingell said it all comes back to trust.

"The most important thing that represents our democracy is every citizen's right and ability to vote. And people have been trying to undermine people's confidence that their vote was counted accurately. Throughout the country and in Michigan, we have had Republican and Democratic clerks say, and even the elected officials, Republican leaders of our state legislature have said that we had open, honest, transparent elections," she said.

"I really think that a lot of this country does not understand that ... there were people that came to the Capitol to kill people that day."
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell

"When people don't have confidence in what happens on Election Day, that erodes their confidence in those that represent them at elected levels, and that worries me."

The House Committee investigating the attack is planning a number of public hearings this year. Dingell hopes the committee is able to deliver a basic accounting of the facts.

"I really think that a lot of this country does not understand that not everybody that came to the Capitol came with this intention, but there were people that came to the Capitol to kill people that day. People died that day," she said.

"What I want is this not to be political, but just for people to understand the kind of violence that we witnessed, that there were those that actually wanted to prevent the certification of the November election, and there were some that wanted to see people die. I don't want to see that happen any place, in any community, let alone at the heart of our democracy."

The committee's work to gather the facts has been complicated so far. Former Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows have defied subpoenas and been indicted for contempt of Congress. Dingell believes the panel will still produce results.

"My understanding is that they are having a number of cooperating witnesses. We have seen some of the texts that were traded that day. I think there's a lot of information that, when they finish their investigation, will give people a lot of information that we need to have," she said.

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and some members of Congress planned events to mark the anniversary, but Dingell chose to remain in Michigan. After the attack last year, nearly 1000 Michigan National Guard troops deployed to Washington to protect the Capitol.

"I'm going to a National Guard Armory that is in my current district and meeting with some of the men and women who were assigned to the Capitol immediately following January 6 to thank them and ask them what they think a year later."

Editor's note: Some of the quotes in this story have been edited for length and clarity. You can hear the full interview near the top of this page.

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Radio staff as the host of Morning Edition in June 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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