Senate BYU intern’s first day on the job was Jan 6, insurrection day

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As America watches the impeachment trial in Washington D.C., a Brigham Young University student shares her experience being close to the chaos that surrounded the Capitol. 

Newsline reporter Amy Griffin reported the story of BYU student Natalie Tonks who experienced the chaos of the riot at the Capitol from an office in Salt Lake. Tonks was interning for Senator Mitt Romney and never expected what her first day would look like.

“So my first day was January 6, which was the day that the Capitol was overrun,” Tonks said. 

This chaotic day at the Capitol created high stress levels at the senator’s Salt Lake City office.

“We kept getting updates from our staff in D.C., one of them was hiding in a closet and we didn’t know where the senator was,” Tonks said.

The Salt Lake City office prepared in case any similar protests took place locally. Tonks said the Chief of Staff called everyone into the office and said if they “caught wind” of any kind of protests coming their way that they were to leave out the back door and go home immediately. 

Tonks and her co-workers answered more than 1,500 calls — mostly from constituents. She said the most troubling part for her was how many Utahns didn’t believe the insurrection actually happened. 

“People denied that the insurrection happened at the very moment that it was happening,” Tonks said. “And so a lot of the phone calls that we get are about that as well, saying that there was no riot.”

Tonks plans to stick with politics, despite her action-packed first few days. She hopes the worst is in the past. Even if it’s not, Tonks still wants to work on the front lines. 

“You could take a dimmer outlook on politics going forward from that, but I have a lot of faith in America,” Tonks said.

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