“It’s disturbing,” Gosar told Wray, while claiming Babbitt was “executed.” “The Capitol Police officer that did that shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and then gave no warning before killing her.”
His comments, which came the same day he joined 20 other House Republicans in voting against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the officers who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6, have gone viral on social media and drawn swift rebukes from critics and some colleagues who accused him of downplaying the severity of the insurrection.
“On January 6, as the violent mob advanced on the House chamber, I was standing near [Rep. Gosar] and helped him open his gas mask,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who lost her House leadership position last month over her attempts to hold former president Donald Trump accountable for the insurrection. “The Capitol Police led us to safety.”
Before the insurrection, Gosar actively promoted Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud. After lawsuits challenging the 2020 presidential election results failed to advance, Gosar in December amplified falsehoods that 20,000 ballots had been changed in favor of Joe Biden.
On Jan. 6, he was among the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election results. Some Democrats also urged an investigation into Gosar’s role in inciting the insurrection. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) called on the House Ethics Committee to probe how deeply involved Gosar and two of his colleagues were planning rallies that day. The committee, in a letter last week, declined to investigate.
Gosar’s vote on Tuesday and his comments during the House committee hearing only added to the congressman’s record of sympathizing with the pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol in an attempt to interfere with the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential win.
In House hearings since the insurrection, Gosar has previously criticized the Capitol Police officer who killed Babbitt. Video from the scene shows the officer shot Babbitt as she tried to climb through one of the doors to the Speaker’s Lobby, as other rioters smashed windows.
Federal prosecutors in April cleared the officer of wrongdoing, saying the shooting was reasonable, as the officer was acting in self-defense or in defense of members of Congress. Moreover, an attorney for the officer said they identified themselves as other officers warned rioters not to breach the doors.
During a hearing in May, Gosar demanded that acting U.S. attorney general Jeffrey Rosen identify the officer, asking, “Who executed Ashli Babbitt?”
Rosen replied that did he not want to get into “the specific facts of investigations.”
On Tuesday, Gosar continued a similar questioning to Wray. The Arizona congressman asked the FBI director if he knew the identity of the officer who shot Babbitt.
Wray said he did not know. Gosar then asked if Wray knew that she was unarmed. Wray responded that he could not weigh in on the facts of the case, as it was not investigated by the FBI.
Gosar also asked why the officer has not yet been named, “when police officers around the country are routinely identified after a shooting.”
Wray said he could not comment on the case, as the FBI has not been directly involved in it. But The Post reported that while D.C. police officers are required by law to release the names of officers involved in serious use of force, the law does not apply to Capitol Police officers.
Lawyers representing the officer are not disclosing his name because he has “faced death threats,” The Post reported.
Gosar on Tuesday suggested the shooting was not justified. He asked Wray: “Do you approve of lethal force against unarmed citizens, particularly a 110-pound woman, with no warning, no use of nonlethal force prior and while lying in wait?”
Wray said he was not going to “answer a hypothetical.” But Gosar argued “that’s actually what had happened.”
The 21 GOP lawmakers who voted against awarding the police officers with Congressional Gold Medals likewise sought to soften the events of the day. Some said they objected to use of the words “temple of democracy” and “insurrection” in the resolution.
“I wouldn’t call it an insurrection,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), according to Politico.
Other Republicans were aghast. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) declared, “How you can vote no to this is beyond me.”
“Then again, denying an insurrection is as well,” Kinzinger, a vocal Trump critic, said in a tweet. “To the brave Capitol (and DC metro PD) thank you. To the 21: they will continue to defend your right to vote no anyway.”
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this story.