Former president Donald Trump said late Thursday that he “totally” disagrees with the assessment of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that the Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol “did his job.”
McCarthy weighed in on the issue earlier Thursday when asked by a reporter if he agreed with a recent characterization by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) that Babbitt was “murdered” by a Capitol Police officer while she was trying to breach the doors near the House chamber on Jan. 6.
“I think the police officer did his job,” McCarthy said, without elaboration.
An internal investigation cleared the Capitol Police officer of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of Babbitt. The Justice Department also determined that the officer would not face criminal charges in the killing of the 35-year-old California woman.
In his post, Trump characterized the officer as a “Thug” and a “MISFIT.”
“He was not a hero but a COWARD, who wanted to show how tough he was,” Trump claimed.
McCarthy was initially critical of Trump after the insurrection but later visited him at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. The two have at least outwardly enjoyed a close political relationship in recent months. Trump offered a spirited endorsement of McCarthy last month as he was struggling to round up the necessary Republican votes to become speaker.
Babbitt was among the group of Trump supporters who made their way into the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. The pro-Trump mob overran the Capitol complex in a violent siege that ultimately resulted in five deaths.
The group Babbitt was with was battering the doors to the Speaker’s Lobby, the hallway outside the House chamber where some lawmakers and House staff members were sheltering, when Babbitt attempted to crawl through a shattered window pane in the doors.
Lt. Michael Byrd, a 28-year veteran with the Capitol Police, said he fired his gun that day only as a “last resort.” He said he was trying to protect about 60 to 80 House members and staff who were sheltering beyond the glass doors of the Speaker’s Lobby.
Byrd, who was standing on the far side of the doors, fired a single shot at Babbitt, sending her tumbling backward onto the floor. Babbitt was hit in the shoulder and later died.
Greene made the comments earlier in the week during a House Oversight Committee meeting after a Democratic member referred to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols after a beating by police in Memphis.
Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Tex.) had expressed opposition to a Republican decision to disband a subcommittee focused on civil rights, arguing that Nichols’s death was an example of what such a panel should be investigating.
“I watched the video [of the beating], and it was tragic and extremely difficult to watch,” Greene said. “But I’d like to also point something that I’d hope you share with me: There’s a woman in this room whose daughter was murdered on January 6th, Ashli Babbitt.” (Greene had apparently invited Babbitt’s mother to attend the committee meeting.)
“As a matter of fact, no one has cared about the person that shot and killed her,” Greene continued. “And no one in this Congress has really addressed that issue. And I believe that there are many people that came into the Capitol on Jan. 6, whose civil rights and liberties are being violated heavily.”