SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey bought a blue wool suit off the rack during post-holiday sales - J.Crew, cobalt blue, standard cut. Representative Kim looked forward to wearing the suit to President Biden's inauguration on January 20. But first, Mr. Kim, a Democrat who represents New Jersey's 3rd District, wore his new suit to work in the halls of Congress on January 6 to count and certify the ballots from the Electoral College.
He was on his way to the House Chamber around 1 p.m. that day when the U.S. Capitol was invaded by a mob trying to overturn the election by force. Representative Kim made it back to his office, where he and his staff barricaded their doors, stayed there for eight hours until the Capitol had been secured, and Congress resumed its Constitutional duties after a foiled insurrection. It was the most emotional experience I've ever had on any job, he told us. And before being elected to Congress, Andy Kim worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations at the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council.
There was broken glass when I got to the Rotunda, he remembers, garbage, litter, bottles, and cigarette butts people put out on statues. I felt heartbroken. The Capitol is the physical form of Article I of the Constitution, he told us. All legislative powers vested in Congress. So I found a roll of trash bags, got down on my knees, and just started trying to clean up a place I love.
AP photographer Andrew Harnik came across him, and pictures of Representative Kim on his knees cleaning up after a mob that tried to disrupt democracy were seen around the world. Perhaps because he wore a face mask, he became known as the blue suit on social media. Representative Kim got tweets, cards, and letters from people who said his pointed, simple response gave them hope. He wore the suit once more a week later to vote for the impeachment of Donald Trump.
The dust of cleaning up was still on my knees, he told us. Then I put the suit in the back of my closet. I didn't want to see it again. But when the Smithsonian National Museum of American History called to ask for his blue suit as an artifact of what happened on January 6, Representative Kim said he was glad to hand it over for display. He hopes his sons, August (ph) and Austin (ph), now 3 and 5, will see it there one day. He says he'll tell them, when something you love is broken, you fix it.
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