Rep. Andy Kim Says He Almost Threw Away Jan. 6 Blue Suit He Donated to Smithsonian

Rep. Andy Kim says he nearly threw away the blue suit he wore while cleaning up the U.S. Capitol following the insurrection on January 6 before deciding to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution.

The New Jersey Democrat took to Twitter on Tuesday, the six-month anniversary of the deadly riot, to discuss the suit. Though the Smithsonian asked him to donate the suit within weeks of the riot, Kim said that the garment itself was "unremarkable" but serves as a reminder of events that "must never be forgotten." The congressman bought the bright blue suit off-the-rack during a sale at J. Crew over the holidays and had originally intended to wear it during President Joe Biden's inauguration.

6 months ago today I wore this blue suit as I cleaned the Capitol after the insurrection, now I just donated it to the Smithsonian. Jan6 must never be forgotten. While some try to erase history, I will fight to tell the story so it never happens again. Here is one story…(THREAD) pic.twitter.com/GKePd1ZMrr

— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) July 6, 2021

However, when he woke on January 6 and found that Democrats had won in Georgia's Senate runoff elections, Kim decided to wear the suit to celebrate that, as well as the official certification of Biden's Electoral College victory during the joint session of Congress on that day. Rioters breached the building during the session, fueled by false claims that the election had been "stolen" from former President Donald Trump. Kim was photographed in the suit the next morning cleaning up debris.

"Like my suit, what I did on Jan 6 on its face was unremarkable," Kim tweeted. "I saw a mess and cleaned it. I wanted to right the wrongs of that day as quickly and as tangibly as I could. Neither my suit nor my actions are on their own worthy of memory, but the story didn't end there."

Kim said that he wore the suit for the final time one week after the insurrection, to cast a vote in favor of Trump's historic second impeachment by the House for allegedly inciting the Capitol riot. Kim said the suit "still had dust on the knees" from the cleanup while he wore it on January 13. He chose to wear the garment so there would be "no doubt about the truth of what happened."

Andy Kim Blue Suit Smithsonian Capitol Riot
Rep. Andy Kim said Tuesday that he nearly threw away the blue suit he wore during the January 6 riot at the Capitol, before later deciding to donate it to the Smithsonian. Kim is pictured wearing a different blue suit during a House hearing in Washington, D.C. on October 2, 2020. J. Scott Applewhite/Getty

"When I got home I vowed to never wear the suit again," Kim tweeted. "I even considered throwing it away. It only brought back terrible memories. I could never separate that suit from the events of Jan6. I hid it in my closet as I never wanted to see it again. But then something happened."

"In the following days, I started to receive thousands of cards from across the country," he continued. "Many from kids. Strangers who wanted to tell me how they felt when they saw the photo of me. They talked about the blue suit. The suit meant something different to them than it did to me. People wrote saying the blue suit gave them a sense of resilience and hope."

Despite the suit apparently inspiring strangers, Kim said that he remained "in a tough place" in the weeks after the riot, recalling an "unshakable regret" that he did not "do more to keep people safe." He said that the cards he received had helped him "feel stronger" by the time the Smithsonian called him to request he donate the suit later in January.

Kim agreed to donate the suit because he believes that remembering the insurrection "isn't optional, it is necessary." The congressman said that those who try to obscure or erase the events of the day are responsible for producing "shameful results," arguing that "you can't turn the page of American history until you write the page first."

"It'll be surreal to one day take my kids to the Smithsonian and show them the blue suit behind glass," tweeted Kim. "I hope they grow to know the truth of Jan6, but I also hope the story ultimately is one of hope and resilience. I hope that is what they and others see in the blue suit."

Valeska M. Hilbig, deputy director for the Office of Communications and Marketing at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, confirmed in a statement to Newsweek that the museum had received Kim's suit "as part of a larger collecting initiative to continue to assess now and in the future what historians and the public will know about Jan. 6, 2021."

"Our curatorial staff, including in the division of political and military history, continue to monitor the evolving situation regarding the election of 2020 and the Capitol building insurrection and interruption of the final ratification of that election," Hilbig said. "At this point, there are no immediate plans for a display."