Trump calls police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt a ‘thug’ during CNN town hall

Donald Trump once again demonised the Capitol police who that shot and killed rioter Ashli Babbitt on 6 January, 2021.

During a much-maligned CNN town hall featuring the former president, Mr Trump called the officer, who is Black, a "thug."

In addition, he falsely said that the officer bragged about killing Babbitt. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who moderated the town hall, pushed back on that claim.

Babbitt was a former member of the US Air Force and a Trump loyalist when she answered the then-president's call to protest the 2020 election results in Washington DC.

She was wearing a Trump flag tied around her neck like a cape when she attempted to climb into the Capitol through a broken window. An officer inside the building shot and killed her.

Months after the riot, Mr Trump demanded the name of the police officer who shot Ms Babbitt to be made public.

The officer's identity was eventually made public, and he appeared in a televised interview to discuss the incident.

During a rally in Arizona last year after the television interview aired, Mr Trump called the officer a "disgrace" and an "out-of-control dope," saying he shot Babbitt "for no reason."

"He's so proud of himself. Let's see how he could do without the protections that he got. And, by the way, if that happened the other way around they'd be calling 'let's bring back the electric chair,'" Mr Trump said during the rally.

The Justice Department reviewed the shooting in April of that year and found insufficient evidence to charge the police officer with a crime.

"Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense, or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber," the DOJ concluded.

The Capitol riot came up several times during Mr Trump's town hall. He teased the idea that he would pardon some of the accused rioters — potentially including members of the Proud Boys far-right gang that were convicted on seditious conspiracy charges.

He even went so far as to call 6 January 2021 a "beautiful day."

In the run-up to his 2024 presidential run, Mr Trump appears to have embraced the rioters. In addition to promising pardons if he is elected, he has released songs featuring the "J6 Prison Choir" and hosted a rally in Waco, Texas, a hot-bed for anti-government sentiment since the Branch Dividian siege in 1993.