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Daughter grapples with politics of dad who stormed Capitol

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More than 200 people have been arrested in the seven weeks since the Capitol riot. But little is still known about them as individuals and how exactly they were radicalized. Ben Tracy talks to a Virginia woman struggling with her father's role at the Capitol as she tries to repair a relationship torn apart by politics.​

Video Transcript

ANTHONY MASON: This morning, two Senate committees will jointly hold the first hearing on the January 6 assault on the Capitol. We'll hear from the former chief of Capitol Police, and two other top security officials who resigned. More than 200 people have been arrested in the seven weeks since the riot. We know little about most of them, and how the people who raided the Capitol became radicalized. Ben Tracy talked to a Virginia woman struggling with her father's role at the Capitol, and trying to repair a relationship divided by politics.

ROBIN SWEET: I was always close to my dad, and he was my rock as a kid growing up.

BEN TRACY: Robin Sweet is talking about her father, Doug.

Has politics always been a part of his life?

ROBIN SWEET: I don't ever remember as a kid anything about politics, ever.

BEN TRACY: She says her dad's career at the shipyards near his home in Virginia ended back in the early '90s when he was injured on the job. Robin's parents divorced, and now Doug works as a handyman in town.

Was there a moment where you realized something's really changed here?

ROBIN SWEET: When Charlottesville happened, and my dad was there.

BEN TRACY: The 2017 white supremacist rally was called Unite the Right. She says that's when her father fully embraced former President Trump's rhetoric about defending Confederate heritage.

DONALD TRUMP: We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history.

BEN TRACY: And Doug found a new home in far right politics, much of it online.

ROBIN SWEET: We couldn't have a regular conversation. It would just go right down this rabbit hole, like they're taking children and draining their blood to make adrenochrome.

BEN TRACY: Adrenochrome is a chemical compound produced by the oxidation of adrenaline. It's also become an ingredient in the baseless online conspiracy theory known as QAnon.

ROBIN SWEET: What do you say to that?

- Black lives!

- Matter!

BEN TRACY: At the same time, Robin, who was 35, was devoting herself to racial justice issues, marching last summer with Black Lives Matter.

DONALD TRUMP: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.

BEN TRACY: Then came January 6.


ROBIN SWEET: My very first thought was, I bet my dad is there. I was afraid for him. I had people check his Facebook. He hadn't posted anything. Then, I got really scared. Somebody sent me a news report that listed him as arrested.

BEN TRACY: Doug Sweet was arrested inside the Capitol.

ROBIN SWEET: I was really embarrassed for my family, for my son, for our town.

BEN TRACY: To understand what happened to Doug Sweet, it helps to understand where he comes from. Matthews, Virginia, a seaside town of 9,000 people. We were told by many in town that extremist and often racist views, once hidden, have been on full display in recent years. You can't miss the Confederate flags that loom larger than any American ones.

Doug Sweet wasn't the only person from this small town at the Capitol. He's been indicted by federal prosecutors, along with a woman named Cindy Fitchett, for unlawfully entering the Capitol. Both have pled not guilty.

SHAWN COSBY: I'm surprised it wasn't more.

BEN TRACY: Really?

SHAWN COSBY: Yeah. I thought it'd be more.

BEN TRACY: Shawn Cosby writes crime novels and was born and raised in Matthews.

SHAWN COSBY: The attitudes and the ideas and the motivations that drove people to Capitol have been bubbling under the surface here since I was a kid.

BEN TRACY: How much of it do you think has been a reaction to what happened last summer with protests for racial justice?

SHAWN COSBY: I think that's a lot of it. I think the bottom line is, you have a lot of people who are incredibly afraid, and they can't articulate it. They don't know how to express it.

DOUG SWEET: I didn't go with any malice or intention of malice.

BEN TRACY: This was Doug Sweet shortly after he was arrested.

DOUG SWEET: What other recourse do we have? They will not listen to us.

BEN TRACY: We wanted to talk to him, but he declined our request for an interview. So we went to the island where he lives, passing the largest Confederate flag we'd seen yet, and decided to see if he'd change his mind.

DOUG SWEET: Y'all go right along.

BEN TRACY: Oh, hey, Doug.

DOUG SWEET: No, that's not me. I don't know who you are. You got the wrong place. Y'all go along, I don't know who y'all are.

BEN TRACY: No, Doug. I'm Ben Tracy, from CBS News.

DOUG SWEET: I don't give a damn who you are.

BEN TRACY: Doug Sweet is set to appear in federal court next month.

DOUG SWEET: I said get off the property, you're on my property. I own the road, so get out of here.

ROBIN SWEET: At the end of the day, they're your family. I feel like he really has been almost brainwashed in a way.

BEN TRACY: You obviously still love him.

ROBIN SWEET: Oh, absolutely.

BEN TRACY: Now Doug Sweet's own words were used by the House managers during former President Trump's impeachment trial here at the Capitol earlier this month. They quoted him as saying that he showed up on January 6 because the then President had called on his digital soldiers to be here.

Now as for Robin and her dad, she says they did get together about a week ago, and she's hopeful they can mend their relationship. Tony?

TONY DOKOUPIL: Ben, that's a powerful piece, and representative of a lot of families in this country and what they're going through right now. Thank you very much. It doesn't end. It doesn't end, because these people continue to hold these beliefs, and I don't know how you root it out.

GAYLE KING: I'm glad he's telling that story, and listen, Doug Sweet has a right not to talk to us. He probably thinks Robin's crazy for participating in Black Lives Matter, so it would be great to see--

ANTHONY MASON: How do you heal that divide?

TONY DOKOUPIL: How do you heal it? How do you bring people back into the fold of reality as well? All right, Ben. Thank you.