WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) disagrees with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) that Ashli Babbitt was “murdered” by police during the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
A Capitol Police officer shot Babbitt as she tried to climb through a smashed window at the entrance to the Speaker’s Lobby just off the House floor. She immediately fell to the floor and later died at a hospital.
“I think the police officer did his job,” McCarthy said Thursday in response to a question from HuffPost about whether Babbitt was murdered.
Greene had described Babbitt’s shooting as murder — an illegal, premeditated killing — during her first appearance as a member of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday. She even suggested Babbitt’s death was as outrageous as last month’s killing of Tyre Nichols by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee. Those officers have been charged with murder.
In an interview on Thursday, Greene insisted “murder” is the right word for what happened to Babbitt.
“She was an innocent unarmed woman,” Greene said. “I’ve seen a video of it. She was indeed murdered.”
Videos of the incident show Babbitt, who had a history of erratic and threatening behavior, fully participating in a mob scene, screaming at police officers as others punched the windows in the barricade doors to the Speaker’s Lobby. One of the officers in the lobby pulls out his service weapon, and several rioters yell about the gun. Babbitt then tries to clamber through one of the broken windows. The officer fires a single shot, and Babbitt goes down.
Greene claimed Babbitt was trying to stop someone else from climbing through the window, but that’s not apparent from any videos HuffPost has seen. In its investigation into Babbitt’s death, which resulted in no charges for the officer, the Justice Department said Babbitt “attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out.”
The Capitol Police said the officer’s action potentially saved lawmakers and staff from potential injuries and death at the hands of the mob attacking the Capitol.
McCarthy has championed Greene’s career as part of a reciprocal relationship in which she became his biggest supporter among the far-right of the House Republican conference. She’s been rewarded with a coveted spot on the House Oversight Committee. Greene has said she’ll push the committee to investigate the criminal justice system’s supposed mistreatment of Jan. 6 rioters.
Though he stopped short of criticizing Greene’s inflammatory statements in support of a mob rioter on Thursday, McCarthy’s statement supporting the officer who killed Babbitt shows that even he has limits.
Other prominent House Republicans couldn’t find it in themselves to disagree with Greene’s claims about Babbitt.
“I don’t have any facts about that,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said. “Here’s what we know: She was shot, and she’s dead.”
James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, declined to say whether he agreed with Greene. He said the House Administration Committee, rather than the Oversight Committee, would handle any investigations into what happened on Jan. 6, 2021. He added he didn’t know whether his committee would investigate the conditions at the D.C. jail, where rioters are being held, as Greene has urged.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump has praised Babbitt and his other supporters who rioted at the Capitol. He and Greene even participated in a fundraiser for several men charged with attacking police that day.
In a statement on his website Thursday evening, Trump said he totally disagreed with McCarthy that the officer was doing his job “when he shot and killed Great Patriot Ashli Babbitt at point blank range.” Trump called the officer a “coward” and wrote that Babbitt was murdered.
Despite the mild disagreement, McCarthy vindicated Greene in a bigger way on Thursday by corralling unanimous Republican support for a resolution kicking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the Foreign Affairs Committee — payback for Democrats having removed Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from committees in 2021. McCarthy claimed the vote was not a “tit for tat,” but a number of Republicans have openly admitted otherwise.