In this episode of Intelligence Matters, Michael Morell speaks with Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operations officer now representing Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Spanberger takes us inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the day it was stormed by a mob of insurrectionists. Spanberger recounts the incursion into the Capitol by Trump supporters and weighs in on who should be held accountable for the riots that day.
- The invasion: “There was kind of a frenzied call: “Everybody, put your gas masks on, put your gas masks on.” Then there was a bit of another frenzied call: “OK, in fact, whatever the irritant they’ve put out is not reaching this far.” Take your gas mask off. There were people who were pretty upset making sure that people weren’t going to risk hyperventilation…that’s when these insurrectionists had reached the Capitol floor, the chamber door. So we are there and there are Capitol police officers on the floor barricading up the door to enter the House chamber. With benches and tables and just standing as people on the other side are banging the door, breaking the glass in the door, the doors, a mix of decorative metal and glass and wood breaking through that glass.”
- Capitol Police preparedness: “There was a breakdown of communication, there was mass confusion among the things that was notable to me, as there was no accounting of who was who and where people were. You know, there was nobody keeping a roster of where different members of Congress were and where they were holed up. There was no accounting of where, of course, I confirmed where my staff was. But staff members or members of the media, anyone who was in the building to confirm that they were safe and that they were accounted for, none of that happened. I think that that’s an absolute failure, particularly when we were witnessing the mob demonstrating violence, evidently erecting a gallows on the lawn of the Capitol.”
- Who should be held accountable? “It is incredibly important that we call the insurrectionist attacks on the United States Capitol at a time when a joint session of Congress was certifying an election exactly what it was — which is a real attempt to undermine our democracy. That it was set forth by the President of the United States or provoked by the President of the United States and supported by the violent and angry and live filled rhetoric of many of my colleagues in the House and in the Senate. We must make note of that because it is important to recognize how these things occur. It didn’t happen in a day. It happened over weeks and weeks when we saw people begin to accept and push conspiracy theories, push conspiracy theories that state after state said, no, this is wrong.”
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“Intelligence Matters”: Abigail Spanberger transcript
Producer: Ariana Freeman
MICHAEL MORELL: It is an honor to have you with us on Intelligence Matters, Abigail. So welcome.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Thank you so much for having me. It is an honor to be speaking with you and I’m delighted to join your podcast, which I listen to whenever I get the chance.
MICHAEL MORELL: Thank you. We’re going to talk in some detail, Abigail, about the insurrection at the Capitol last week. But I first want to give my listeners a sense, Abigail, for who you are and for your background. So let me start by saying, for most of your professional life, you’ve been involved in public service. First as a federal agent for the Postal Inspection Service and as a CIA operations officer and now as a member of Congress. What drew you and what draws you to public service?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: So I always wanted to pursue a career in public service because I was following the example of my parents. My father was a career federal law enforcement officer and my mother was a nurse. Growing up, my father used to always say that there was no higher calling than service to our country. I didn’t really ever conceptualize any other option other than public service and I was particularly drawn to CIA because it’s a place where you get to answer unanswerable, seemingly unanswerable questions and you get to help other people make really, really good decisions. But growing up in my household that was my primary focus was serving our country and ultimately now representing the community I grew up in, I get to serve my country and our community.
MICHAEL MORELL: And why politics? Why the move to politics and what drew you to that?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Well I had left CIA in 2014, at that point in time, I had been thinking about what to do next and where to go next. As you well know it’s a career that requires a lot of moves and my daughter, who was five at the time said, and we were talking about where we might go next with my career. She said, well, what about Richmond? When are we going to move to Richmond? We had friends posted to Kenya at the time and I remember saying, “oh, well, remember Ruby has monkeys in her backyard. Doesn’t that sound exciting?” And apparently grandma is way, well, both grandmothers actually are way more compelling than monkeys in the backyard. It really got me thinking about long term what it is that I wanted professionally and personally.
As I mentioned, my father’s career in law enforcement that had moved us around quite a bit when I was growing up until we settled in Virginia. But my mother as a nurse, had always been really focused on our local community. So I decided at that time, somewhat inspired by or at least she got the wheels turning by my daughter mentioning, ultimately, she said, everybody we love lives in Richmond. Why wouldn’t we go there? And so I had settled down. I thought I was going to be a relatively normal a suburban parent. I did get a job in the private sector and I started a Girl Scout troop and I thought that would be the way that I would be engaged in my community. And I began getting involved in various different forms of advocacy for issues that mattered, a little bit less political than issued focused.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: But after the 2016 election and the continued attacks on the intelligence community, on facts, on information, on troops having spent time in the intelligence community as a case officer. Writing up those intelligence reports and working with report officers and analysts, to make sure that people some other place who are making really hard and important decisions had the information they needed to make good decisions. Recognizing that there seemed to be a willingness to depart from a desire to make good and informed decisions. And my predecessor in this office, in my district was somewhat chief among them. I decided that I would run because I wanted to be among those who were endeavoring to make good, informed, fact based decisions and that’s really what brought me to politics in the principle of it. That’s why I ran and it’s been quite an adventure ever since.
MICHAEL MORELL: Abigail, let’s talk about the insurrection at the Capitol and maybe for the sake of a logical structure here, as I grew up being an analyst, as you know, let’s break it down into before, during and after.
MICHAEL MORELL: With regard to the before, I’m wondering what kind of security, guidance, warnings, et cetera, you might have received from the Capitol Police in the days leading up to life last Wednesday. Did you get warnings? Did you get guidance? And what did it say?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: So the answer is no, not really. We were aware that there was expected disturbances, but I would say that any of the preparations that came were really member driven for an example, and my team knows I’m a little bit over the top.
I frequently have our office swept for bugs. I have every present the office receives run through machines to make sure there’s no listening devices. They somewhat joke about how I’m maybe a bit kooky about this experience and I had told my team and of course, we’re working with limited staff in the office anyway because of the pandemic, I had said any anyone who comes to the office and really it should be a skeleton of a crew as possible, should dress down, wear jeans, wear sweat pants. It should look like you are just walking back home from the gym or doing whatever. No one should have their badge out. If you keep your MetroCard and your badge, make sure that they’re separate and no one should know you’re a Capitol Hill employee until you’re actually walking through the magnetometer and presenting your ID to Capitol Police.
MICHAEL MORELL: So they wouldn’t be targeted?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Right. Because to be clear, we knew that this event was happening on January 6th, because January 6th is the day that we were finalizing and acknowledging the results of the November 2020 presidential election.
So that event, of course, was happening in the United States Capitol and so out of abundance of caution, which perhaps now in retrospect was a fraction of what we needed, those were the steps that I asked my my personal team to air and to take. I somewhat followed suit, I wore just a pair of slacks and a turtleneck and through a blazer on top, knowing that if I needed to get away, I could take off my bright colored blazer. Which much to my absolute surprise as we are crouching and taking cover in the House chamber, which we’ll get to in the during portion, I ultimately did exactly that take off my bright colored blazer so that I would be in all black as I was taking cover while people were trying to break into the House chamber.
So overall there was from on the receiving end of how threats were being communicated, certainly not enough that was communicated to people in any way. It was, again, from my perception and the way it was communicated to us and to our teams, viewed as there was going to be a First Amendment rally of sorts. There was expectation that there might be some overflow headed towards the Capitol. It was recommended that people use the tunnels and stay inside. But really, that was the extent of the guidance that we received.
MICHAEL MORELL: So, Abigail, let’s move to the during the event itself. Can you walk us through what happened from the time you started the joint session of Congress just after noon, I think it was somewhere around one o’clock but you returned to the session much later that night. Give us sort of the Blow-by-blow?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: So because of the pandemic, the way that we had set up the joint session of Congress was we had members of Congress in the chamber, in the gallery, which is the section up above that’s typically open to the public and members of Congress seated on the actual floor all in one big chamber. We had done that so that we could have some social distancing apart. They were also attempting to limit the number of House members and Senators who joined and so we made known what time of day we were going to be there. So I was set to be there at the beginning of the joint session, which began shortly after 1:00 p.m.
And it began with the with the pomp and circumstance of what this event is supposed to be. Now, there’s a parade of Senators and clerks who come over from the United States Senate walking the long path across, and then they announce, I believe it’s the sergeant at arms who announces that they are there. They bring in these boxes, these big wooden boxes, where their certificates from all of the states providing the certified results of each state’s election and then one by one, there’s a script to it.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: They are presented and read out in alphabetical order. Each state announces their results and the Vice President receives those and reads them out loud and we go through one by one. And so when we got to Arizona, which is pretty, pretty early, there was a challenge to the electoral results in Arizona. So one of the House members contested it. One of the Senators, Senator Cruz, also contested it.
At that point in time, when they’ve contested a response and a House member with the support of a Senator both contest it, then we break into our individual houses to debate. At that point, the Senators left and it was House members who took up and began the debate. At that point, we had Speaker Pelosi seated in the speaker’s chair presiding over the proceedings and the debate was ongoing. Each person who was speaking had five minutes and it was set to be a two hour debate in five minute increments.
We were a couple people through that list when there was a little bit of a commotion and Capitol Police officers came in and quietly went up to Chairman McGovern and then ultimately went up on the dais and quietly spoke to Speaker Pelosi and she walked down and Chairman McGovern walked up and he took over in the speaker’s chair and she quickly left. It was very clear that they were escorting her out and then they escorted out. Congressman Clyburn and Congressman Hoyer, of course, House leadership on our side, the Democratic side. It was a little bit far from me and I wasn’t noticing when House leadership from the other side of the aisle was escorted out.
So it was very clear that something was happening at that point in time, and from there, we started looking at our phones and it was clear that the protests outside and at this point still seemingly protests had just become really or were reaching some level of a fever pitch. We got an alert that there was a potential bomb threat in one of the house office buildings and so people were evacuated out of there.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Then we started getting trickling in announcements that they were going past fenced off areas that were fenced off, both in part because of the upcoming inauguration events, but also because of the what we’re expected to be maybe on the rowdy side was the expectation, a First Amendment event.
And so then all of a sudden, things escalated very, very quickly when there was an announcement made that people had entered the capitol, we were locking down, there was a sort of a furious effort made by the door attendants and the Capitol Police officers to lock all the doors. Then there was another announcement made that a chemical irritant had been sprayed and so everyone needed to get out their gas masks and they’re kept under the seat, so it elevated and escalated really quickly.
So we all got out our gas masks and prepared for those to potentially use those and then we started to make our way to evacuate. At the beginning, well, a little bit tense it was still kind of calm as people were trying to understand what was happening and then they were able to lead the people who were in the on the floor section, and so those would have been the members from the states that were being contested. So members representing the Arizona delegation who were down on the floor and then most of us were up in the gallery who weren’t going to be debating in.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Then after what seemed like some time of calm in a frenzied situation, we’re checking on people who are pretty concerned about what was happening, we’re texting with our staff and with family members trying to make sure everybody’s accounted for and then it was, we need to get out. We need to get out now. What was supposed to be the egress point was on the opposite side of the gallery where we were and each section of the gallery is blocked off.
By that I mean, there’s rows of seating, movie theater style. But then there’s also bars meant to keep people in their assigned gallery. So we’re climbing under them, climbing over them in order to try and get to the doors that we at the time, were told we would be able to get out of. As we were going around, there was kind of a frenzy call “everybody, put your gas masks on, put your gas masks on.” Then there was a bit of another frenzy call, “OK, in fact, whatever the irritant they’ve put out is not reaching this far.” Take your gas mask off. For those, there were people who were pretty upset making sure that people weren’t going to risk hyperventilation.
MICHAEL MORELL: Right.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: We get to the other, ultimately make it to the other side and that’s when these insurrectionists had reached the Capitol floor, the chamber door. And so we are there and there are Capitol police officers on the floor barricading up the door to enter the House chamber with benches and tables and just standing as people on the other side are banging the door, breaking the glass in the door, the doors, a mix of decorative metal and glass and wood breaking through that glass. They’re screaming, there’s yelling. Capitol police are screaming for everybody to get down. We’re yelling for everybody to take their pins off. So members of Congress have rather notable and to certainly make sure everybody has their pins off. Actually, that’s a call that I had put out when we were still on the other side before we started the move around. Then there was an order to get everybody get down on the ground, flat on the ground.
MICHAEL MORELL: Why the need to take the pins off why did you state that is important?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Well, my thought was if anybody, depending upon their intention, we don’t know their intention. But you don’t want to be readily identifiable if they’re there to target people and not just property. You don’t want to be identifiable as a member of Congress. And in fact, one of my colleagues, when there was first, before they had locked us down, she said, I’m going to go back to my office. I said, take your pin off and she said, what? I said, take your pin off and she said, why should I take my pin off? I said, you take your pin off and if anybody asks who you are, you tell them that you’re a secretary.
To be clear, not that there’s no hierarchy here, but if they’re targeting someone for effect, it would be members of Congress. And I said, now, if you’re insisting on leaving and go. So she she took her pin off and ultimately ended up barricaded in another room during the attack on the Capitol and again, not knowing their intentions. But if they are trying to target members of Congress, it’s a shiny little metal that tells exactly who we are. And if you’re from a CT perspective, and certainly this was a terrorist attack from my perspective, an event waged for political gain and meant to inspire fear that we shouldn’t make ourselves readily available or be identifiable.
MICHAEL MORELL: So, Abigail, the story, please keep going.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: So at that point in time, we were down on the ground. There were insurrectionist trying to come through the door. The Capitol Police were barricading the door to make sure they were out there was screaming there was yelling. Then at the door over by where I was, there was pounding, pounding, people screaming. It was police. So we and there was so much yelling. There were police officers about 20 feet away and so some of us called to them that there were people identifying themselves as police. But of course, we had no way of knowing if they really were. After they confirmed that those individuals indeed were Capitol Police, they opened the door and hurried everyone out very quickly as the Capitol Police officers at the front entrance door continued. At some point in time while all of this is happening, there was a woman was shot and there will be an investigation for the full details of that, but that was at one of the side entrances to the chamber where that occurred. We could hear that. It was unclear at the time because there were other flash bangs sounding loud noises. So it was unclear if that was another flash bang or if that was an actual gunshot.
Ultimately, we know it was a gunshot, but when police officers did come to this other door, we were all able to get out through that door. They assured us quickly to the large marble stairs in the Capitol and as we’re going there, we saw on the ground insurrectionists pronged out on the ground, Capitol Police detaining and subduing them as we rushed down a flight of steps and then into a back stairwell that is not obscured from public view, certainly not meant to be used typically, other than by folks who really know their way around. So then we were in this tiny stairwell going down and ultimately into the tunnels of the Capitol to get out of the Capitol building and over to a room that had been secured in one of the other offices.
MICHAEL MORELL: So, Abigail, when you guys were in the House chamber near the end there, as you’re being moved out and you heard the gunshot. What was what was the mood in the room? What was your own mood? You know, did the adrenaline kick in? Were you frightened? Can you talk about that a little bit?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Sure. You know, my personal go to in times of stress is a bit of humor. So I’m texting my husband while all this is happening and he’s saying, please be safe. He’s giving me updates on what’s happening and, you know, I said, “oh, don’t worry, my hair is already in a ponytail,” which, you know, is our lingo for don’t worry, I’m ready to fight. I made a couple kind of dark humor jokes about the what was happening. Others were praying. Others were crying. Others were calling home. So it was it was a pretty tense time. I think some of the contributing factors were we could hear all of what was happening and we were very clearly seeing Capitol Police officers fending off people trying to break through a door. But we didn’t know how large, how large of a crowd a mob was on the other side of the door and certainly we didn’t know their intention. In retrospect, kind of thinking back to it, it was really the ups and downs of not knowing what was happening, what their intentions were, and trying to make sure that everyone was remaining calm, that we could react in a way that would keep everybody safe. But there were really just pretty raw emotions in that scenario.
MICHAEL MORELL: It really sounds to me I don’t want to embarrass you here, but it really sounds to me like your training as a case officer played a role here in how you dealt with this. Is that your sense?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Yeah, I would say and I would want to thank all my trainers at the farm for all the scenarios that they put us through. You know, the types of scenarios where you try to and I don’t think you ever really do. You try to get accustomed to loud noises. You try to get accustomed to what is it, what does pandemonium sound like? What’s the most productive way to respond to it? I never had any similar experiences on the job at CIA, but certainly the the training prepares you for it. But I will say, Michael, one of the unbelievable things is that even though earlier in my career when I was at CIA, we prepared for these sorts of things. Right.
We went ran through the scenario. What happens when there’s an attack on the building you’re in when they come looking for high ranking U.S. officials? Like, how do you respond to that? What do you do? How do you protect yourself? The idea that the time in my life when I would actually come close to experiencing any of that would be at the United States Capitol, at the at the hands and direction of insurrectionist. American, fellow Americans insurrectionists is absolutely the the unthinkable, an unbelievable thing. But I did have quite a few conversations with a couple of my CIA training classmates about the day. Just reflecting on some of the experiences and some of the the training that we went through and, you know, again, with a little bit of dark humor about how I was at least mentally preparing to respond if people did present themselves directly in front of me.
MICHAEL MORELL: Then there’s a story I understand about some reporters who you assisted? Can you walk us through that?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: In the House chamber, there were reporters who were there to report on what was supposed to be a momentous but, you know, every four years routine event within the United States Capitol. Typically, they sit apart from members of Congress as they’re reporting on things and taking notes. So they have laptops and cameras depending upon what media entity they’re with. But by the time we had all been hustled around to where we were going to be evacuating out of the chamber, we were all pretty much mixed together.
So when I was evacuating out, I was surrounded by a couple reporters and notably when we left the chamber and we were running out towards the big marble stairs and we saw everyone pruned out these insurrectionist proned down on the floor with Capitol Police officers pointing their guns and trying to keep them subdued. Two of the women who were right there, journalists could have slowed down a bit to take some photos and I’m like “C’mon!” But no, it’s amazing because in that moment, they were doing their job. They were doing their job, which is to make sure that this part of our history is known and ideally into the future never forgotten. And so we made our way down the big staircase, down the little back staircase into the basement, hustled through these areas and then ultimately into the room where they were trying to bring all of us.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: This gentleman said, are you members meaning members of Congress? The one woman said, no, we’re with the press and he said, no, the press can’t come in here. So I did get as it’s been reported, I did get a little argumentative with him about the fact that they had no place to go and no even other people who could go barricade themselves in an office. They literally had no place to go. Another one of my colleagues, Ruben Diego, who was right there at the time, he said, my office is just one floor up and but by that point, it was nearby, and by that point, we were away from the Capitol where the threat was. So he had he gave them his office for them to secure themselves in his office. So my gratitude for him for responding in that manner as well. But it was pretty astounding that these people had just been huddling on the ground with the rest of us and then in a moment where I was told that they couldn’t go into this room in this area of the building that was considered to be safe.
MICHAEL MORELL: Oh, good for you.
MICHAEL MORELL: So, Abigail, I want to move to sort of the aftermath and sort of have a series of questions here that I’d like to ask you and the first is with regard to the performance of the Capitol Police. Thinking about both the planning for what was likely to happen, what happened as it was playing out, those members of the Capitol Police, perhaps small, who might have been helping in some way. Can you talk about, from your perspective, the performance of the Capitol Police here?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: You know, and I’ll bucket it, right. At this point, we know that at least one Capitol police officer as of the time that we’re having this discussion, Michael, Officer Brian Sicknick has died as a result of the injuries that he incurred trying to protect the people inside the Capitol. So I sent my heartfelt condolences to his family for their loss and my gratitude for his 12 years of service to the Capitol Police. I think as we spoke about at the very beginning, I don’t think that, again, from my perspective of always trying to plan for the worst and contingency planning and imagining and planning for the unimaginable, the preparations were made to ensure that when we were outside the Capitol compound, people were aware that it could be rowdy or people were aware that there could be problems. So there were fences put up to make sure that the whatever those crowds were didn’t get too close to the Capitol so we could go about our business.
So I think there was a failure to imagine that it could get as bad as it did, which is a failure in and of itself, because regardless of whether or not you can mentally conceive of other Americans participating in an insurrectionist attack, terrorizing the Capitol and all who are in it. We should always perceive and recognize the fact that this building is a target and is a target by those who would do harm to the United States. The part that might be inconceivable is that they would be fellow Americans. But we certainly know that the United States Capitol has been a target in the past and certainly was on 9/11. So I think there was a failure to plan for the fact that the insurrectionist that day might try and charge the Capitol or frankly, that others who would use cover, the cover of this rally to try and do so would. In the end, it was the rally participants, the mob, that made their way and broke into the Capitol.
Then there was a breakdown of communication. There was mass confusion among the things that was notable to me as there was no accounting of who was who and where people were. You know, there was nobody keeping a roster of where different members of Congress were and where they were holed up. There was no accounting of where, of course, I confirmed where my staff was. But staff members or members of the media, anyone who was in the building to confirm that they were safe and that they were accounted for, none of that happened. I think that that’s an absolute failure, particularly when we were witnessing the mob demonstrating violence, evidently erecting a Gallow on the lawn of the Capitol. Once we saw how bad it was getting, the fact that the protocols didn’t include accounting for everyone who should have been in that building. Notably, the number was far, far reduced because, again, because of the pandemic, everyone has been really working with just a skeleton crew, one or two staff members in the office at any given time. So that was a major, major failure.
And then the time that it took to call in the National Guard, the D.C. National Guard. According to what we know, that the fact that the president refused to authorize the National Guard, which is consistent, frankly, with the fact that he had spent the morning provoking the attack on the United States Capitol, all of these things are failures. But I think the biggest failure of leadership is, of course, that of the President who would organize a rally and an event meant to disgrace or distract from the path towards a peaceful transition of power. That was the intention from the beginning, which in and of itself is terrible. But then to go beyond that and provoke violence and and continue to traffic and conspiracy theories to the point where multiple people died, including Officer Sicknick, is to me the largest failure of leadership of the all.
MICHAEL MORELL: So Abigail in terms of President Trump here. I want to ask about accountability for those responsible for the attack the attackers themselves, those who directly incited it with their speeches, including the president and those in those in politics and the media. Right. Who for weeks spread the dry tinder for the attack with the fake news about the election. How do you think we should think about accountability here?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: I think that we need to view accountability in terms of what its purpose is. Accountability is, holding people accountable, which is part of it, but also ensuring that there is a clear accounting of what happened, how it happened, so that we can ensure it doesn’t happen again. Michael, certainly from your background, you know that generally speaking, when there’s a coup attempt, if it’s unsuccessful, there may be others. So it is incredibly important that we call the insurrectionist attacks on the United States Capitol at a time when a joint session of Congress was certifying an election exactly what it was, which is a real attempt to undermine our democracy. That it was set forth by the President of the United States or provoked by the President of the United States, and supported by the violent and angry and live filled rhetoric of many of my colleagues in the House and in the Senate.
We must make note of that, because it is important to recognize how these things occur. It didn’t happen in a day. It happened over weeks and weeks when we saw people begin to accept and push conspiracy theories, push conspiracy theories that state after state said, no, this is wrong. We certify our elections. There was no fraud. What they’re saying is incorrect and notably because it is in a partisan context. Republican governors, Republican legislators, legislatures were certifying elections and states and yet people for political purposes and I heard it from some of my colleagues. Well, the base is really upset about this. Well, you have a responsibility as an elected leader to tell your voters whether they supported you or not, but particularly those who support you when they are so wrong about something. You have the responsibility to tell them the truth and the truth, however much they dislike it, is that their preferred presidential candidate didn’t win.
So I really applaud the comments that Senator Romney has put out where he was talking about just that, that it’s their responsibility to tell people the truth. But the accounting of where people stood, how people participated in getting us to the point where this tinderbox was ready to explode is important to acknowledge and understand so that we can avoid it in the future. We need a full accounting now of who stands where as it relates to responsibility, acknowledging these previously inconceivable chain of events so that we can ensure that our oldest democracy in the world, a democratic republic, can survive and ultimately grow from this and ideally be stronger into the future. But if we don’t do that, then frankly,we really risk everything.
MICHAEL MORELL: I also wanted to ask Abigail about this is a sign of how deep our problems are. I received dozens and dozens of emails from currently serving and former foreign government officials. There was a common theme in these emails and it was, Michael, the divisions in your country are deeper than we thought, and we thought they were pretty deep. What’s your reaction to that?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: It is a sad, sad time for us. We are supposed to be the shining city on the hill. We are supposed to be that. We are the country who advocate for strengthening of democracy, for the rights of people, for the democratic values that we’ve seen trampled on. How can we lead the world when we are in such disarray? It is a deeply, deeply concerning and and I would argue humiliating time. I have heard the same from colleagues, former agency colleagues and then friends I made along the way overseas who are just so sad for where we are. I have seen some of the articles that have been put out. I believe it was the Kenyan press who ran an article entitled “Who’s the Banana Republic Now?” I mean, there and it’s a picture of an insurrectionist with the American flag taken down, seated in Speaker Pelosi’s chair with his feet up on the table. It’s just a shameful state of affairs and any American who believes in the strength and purpose of our great nation should want to denounce what we saw on the 6th and ensure that we are working to rebuild and strengthen, frankly, the weaknesses that we have now viewed within our systems.
MICHAEL MORELL: Yeah, Abigail, you’ve been fantastic with your time, I just want to ask you one more question and that’s whether we will see you at some point on the Intelligence Committee. I know the political benefits of that are not great, but you could do a great service to your country there. So will we see you there at some point? Is the question.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: I would love to be able to bring my perspective to the Intelligence Committee. I don’t know if it will be this Congress or future Congresses. You know, it’s the value and the work that the intelligence community does to keep Americans, certainly across our country, in the United States, within the world safe. Is something that the more the American people don’t know about it, that’s because the intelligence community is getting it right and it’s their work that makes it so that we can all sleep at night.
At least most nights this week spend a little bit harder. So I would love to bring that perspective to the Intelligence Committee within the House to ensure that my colleagues understand what it’s like to be or that I can bring some of that perspective about what it’s like to be one of those people out collecting the information and you know doing the work. But I’m grateful to all those who continue to serve and I’m appreciative of their efforts, all of which, again, when they’re keeping us safe, go wholly unnoticed and unknown.
MICHAEL MORELL: All right, Abigail, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER: Thank you. It is an honor to join you. I’m really grateful for all of your lifetime of service and it’s a pleasure to join you today.