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Noem declines to declare Trump responsible for deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot

CNN Host Dana Bash and Governor Kristi Noem
CNN Host Dana Bash and Governor Kristi Noem.

Governor Kristi Noem declined to say whether former President Donald Trump is responsible for the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

A House committee investigating the insurrection will meet at least two more times.

During a weekend appearance on CNN, Noem called the House committee hearings a “one-sided conversation.” When asked twice if Trump bears responsibility for the riot, Noem did not answer the question directly.

“I think we all need to examine this country and where we’re going,” Noem said. “I’m hopeful that people will look to our state. Our state has done incredible things. The country is desperate for some hope right now. The best weekend to focus on that is this weekend where we celebrate our freedoms, our independence, and really look forward with an optimistic attitude. I think we’ve got a bright future ahead of us as long as we continue to represent our people.”

Noem has appeared on several national TV stations following the release of her autobiography, "Not My First Rodeo."

One former Republican colleague in the U.S. House said he does not recognize Noem.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, said on the same CNN show that Noem was a different person in Congress.

“It’s like 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,'” Kinzinger said. “The Kristi Noem I served with was conservative, dedicated to truth, and at the time I would have thought she’d put her country above her political career at any moment.”

Kinzinger speculated that Noem will run for president or vice president and said she is scared of the Republican Party base. Noem has never announced a run for higher office.

Noem is currently seeking a second term as governor. She’s running against Democrat Jamie Smith and Libertarian Tamara Lesnar.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.