Kevin McCarthy breaks from far-right response to police shooting of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy appeared to dismiss claims from Republican US Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene and other far-right officials that Ashli Babbitt was “murdered” by a US Capitol Police officer after she tried to climb into the House chambers through a broken window during a riot in the halls of Congress on 6 January, 2021.
Asked on 2 February whether he agreed with Ms Greene or believed that the officer “did his job” that day, Mr McCarthy said: “I think the police officer did his job.”
In her first remarks on the House Oversight Committee this week, Ms Greene appeared to compare her death and the “civil rights” of other Capitol rioters to the fatal beating of 29-year-old Trye Nichols by Memphis police officers.
Democratic committee members have opposed a Republican decision to dissolve a subcommittee on civil rights, arguing that the death of Nichols would have been under that panel’s investigative purview.
“I watched the video, and it was tragic and extremely difficult to watch,” the Georgia Republican 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 6, Ashli Babbitt.”
“No one has cared about the person that shot and killed her” and “no one in this Congress has really addressed that issue,” according to Ms Greene.
Federal prosecutors closed their investigation into Babbitt’s killing, which was captured on video as a mob that broke its way through police barricades surrounded the doors leading to the Speaker’s Lobby. The US Department of Justice found “no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt ” that the shooting was unlawful.
Ms Green also said that the “civil rights and liberties” of people in jail facing charges connected to the Capitol attack are “being violated heavily”.
Following her death, Babbitt has emerged as a martyr figure on the far right, and the phrase “who killed Ashli Babbitt?” has been a rallying cary among GOP lawmakers and former president Donald Trump, who eulogised her in public remarks and on Fox News.
Her death has been the subject of rampant, baseless conspiracy theories, with far-right congressman Paul Gosar suggesting in a fundraising email that the FBI staged the attack, and, during a congressional hearing, that the officer who killed her was “lying in wait” to do so.
Six months after the Capitol riots, fuelled by the former president’s election lies, he said that had Babbitt been “on the other side, the person who did the shooting would be strung up and hung.”