Former President Donald Trump took a jab at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a close ally, for defending the Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot.
Asked about comments from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., that Babbitt had been murdered, McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters on Thursday, “I think the police officer did his job.”
That led to a rebuke on social media from Trump, who posted on his Truth Social account, “I totally disagree with the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy” about the officer who “shot and killed Great Patriot Ashli Babbitt.”
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran and Trump supporter, was with a crowd of Jan. 6 rioters threatening police officers as they tried to break through the partially glass doors leading toward the House chamber. Dozens of lawmakers and staff were holed up inside as police tried to find the safest way to evacuate them.
“As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out,” the Justice Department said in its review of the shooting, which was caught on video by one of the protesters.
The officer “fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor,” the Justice Department statement said. She was rushed to a local hospital, where she died.
The Justice Department declined to press charges against the officer, Lt. Michael Byrd, saying they found no evidence to contradict his contention that he believed it was necessary to shoot at Babbitt “in self-defense or in defense of the members of Congress and others evacuating the House chamber.”
Byrd was also exonerated of any wrongdoing in a separate internal Capitol Police investigation.
In an August 2021 interview with NBC News, Byrd said he’d yelled repeatedly for the rioters to get back, and that he’d fired his weapon as a “last resort.”
“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” Byrd told Lester Holt, adding “I tried to wait as long as I could.”
“I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers,” he said.
In his post on Truth Social, Trump referred to Byrd, a Black 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police, as a “thug” and a “COWARD, who wanted to show how tough he was. ASHLI BABBITT WAS MURDERED!!!”
Trump’s challenge to McCarthy comes roughly one month after the former president tried to help him capture the speakership by reaching out to Republicans who’d opposed his bid for leadership.