Jenna Bush Hager Gets Emotional About Capitol Hill Riots: "This Is Not the America That I Know"

Opening up to her TODAY with Hoda & Jenna co-host, the former first daughter got emotional sharing her perspective on the riots at Capitol Hill.

By Allison Crist Jan 07, 2021 5:20 PMTags
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A poignant reflection. 

Jenna Bush Hager watched along with the rest of the country as a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday, Jan. 6, and because of her own personal connections to the home of Congress, she couldn't help but get emotional while discussing the turmoil on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.

"What was so hard, I think, for so many of us who have grieving hearts, is these images are not our America," the former first daughter told her co-host Hoda Kotb on Jan. 7. "This is not the America that you know. This is not the America that I know. It is not the America that we want our kids to know."

She continued, "I have had the privilege of standing on those steps in several inaugurations—not just for family members—but for the first Black President of the United States of America when I was a teacher in inner-city D.C., and that meant so much to so many. I kissed my grandfather goodbye in that rotunda. I have felt the majesty of our country in those walls and nobody can take that from any of us." 

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Jenna then recalled the advice of a friend: "We feel like we're helpless, maybe, in this moment, but we're not because the casual cruelty on the internet and words of leaders that do not reflect our country, we can stop that. We can share kindness, and smiles and love and we can take back what is our country that we all love so very, very much."

With this in mind, Jenna added that she has "optimism" for the country, telling Hoda, "I see you, seeing people I love—I mean, I have to say, I want to hug so many people today [and] that's a hardship—but seeing people that represent the good, spotlighting them. Like, we have an opportunity."

"And I think I have faith that our country will be better," concluded the 39-year-old daughter of former President George W. Bush.

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Yesterday's breach of the Capitol took place as Congress began counting the Electoral College votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden's win. Lawmakers were evacuated as chaos and violence ensued.

For more updates on the situation in Washington D.C., visit NBC News

(E! and TODAY are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)