Kelsey Brugger on Life in Trump’s D.C.

An Update from This ‘Santa Barbara Independent’ Alum, Now a Reporter in Washington, D.C.

As our coverage this week and next focuses on the outgoing and incoming Presidential administrations, we thought it would be timely to check in with Indy alum Kelsey Brugger, who worked for this paper from 2013 to 2018. She moved to Washington, D.C., in April 2018 and now covers climate change and environmental policy for E&E News, which was recently acquired by Politico

Credit: Courtesy

What’s work like on a day-to-day basis?  I am working from home during the pandemic, so most of my days have been spent on the phone talking to sources about Trump’s attack on science, regulations, and the administrative state. I am lucky to have, for the most part, avoided Zoom calls. I also tend to spend too much time doomscrolling on Twitter, which occasionally yields a news tip. 

How is life in Trump’s D.C.?  Generally, Trump has fueled the resistance in D.C. Anti-Trump posters and flyers and bumper stickers are plastered throughout an otherwise fairly progressive city. Most Trump political appointees reportedly live by the wharf in newer apartment buildings.

What was “insurrection day” like?  Like most Americans, I spent insurrection day plastered to my TV — in my English basement, which I affectionately call the bunker, a couple miles from the Capitol. A couple colleagues were at the Capitol and sent updates via Slack. I was tempted to bike down there, but after repeated iPhone alerts, I opted against it.

Early the next morning, I went for a ride and was shocked to find everything sparkling clean and empty, save for a couple of trucks with Texas license plates and a few loyalists wearing red cowboy hats with “Trump” embroidered across the top. The rioters didn’t stay long. 


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