WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy sparked consternation Thursday when he defended the Capitol Hill Police officer who shot and killed Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in a sharp break from his allies former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
During the riot at the U.S. Capitol on the day Congress certified President Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election over Trump and Trump held a rally in protest, Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd fatally shot Babbitt, a protester and Air Force veteran, as she was leaning over a barricaded window in a Capitol hallway.
“There were three officers guarding the door, and that’s where Zachary Alam came in, he was the agitator in this situation, he was punching right over officers’ shoulders,” journalist Tayler Hansen describes the situation. “That’s when officers moved to the right, that’s when Ashli Babbitt, she hopped up, she had both of her hands, all her weight was forward, through the window, and that’s when the officer took a step forward and seemed to execute her.”
In October 2021, conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained documents indicating that while Babbitt had a folding knife in her pocket at the time, which is prohibited inside the Capitol, it was not visible to Byrd and neither he nor other witnesses saw any weapons in her hands. The documents also contain conflicting testimony as to whether Byrd warned Babbitt before shooting.
The Hill reports that when asked about Greene’s statement that Babbitt “was murdered on January 6,” McCarthy responded only that “I think the police officer did his job.”
Greene, a conservative firebrand who in recent months has forged an unlikely alliance with the more establishmentarian McCarthy, reiterated to HuffPost Thursday that Babbitt “was an innocent unarmed woman. I’ve seen a video of it. She was indeed murdered.”
Trump, who like Greene was an early supporter of McCarthy becoming speaker of the House’s new GOP majority, said on his social network Truth Social that he “totally disagree[s] with” McCarthy, that Byrd was a “thug” and “not a hero but a COWARD, who wanted to show how tough he was. ASHLI BABBITT WAS MURDERED!!!””
Support for McCarthy has been a point of contention among conservatives and Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement over the GOP’s underperformance in last fall’s midterms, part of which has been blamed on party leadership. Dissatisfaction led to a revolt over his election as speaker, and though he ultimately prevailed, those who refused to support him in the first several rounds of voting extracted a series of concessions that conservatives say will ensure their issues and interests are better represented over the next two years than they would have been if McCarthy had been coronated without a fight.
It remains to be seen how significantly the dispute over Babbitt’s death will affect the uneasy alliance between McCarthy and MAGA.