Donald Trump filmed a video for Capitol attacker Ashli Babbitt’s birthday, celebrating Babbitt’s life and saying “there was no reason Ashli should’ve lost her life that day” — while failing to describe Babbitt’s own actions, as part of a mob attack on the Capitol, that preceded her death.
Capitol Police officer Michael Byrd shot and killed Babbitt as she attempted to climb through a recently-broken window inside the Capitol, feet from a crowd of lawmakers attempting to evacuate the area. Babbitt was at the front of a crowd of people attempting to enter the House Speaker’s Lobby.
“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” Byrd recalled of the crowd of rioters, in an August NBC News interview in which he confirmed his identity.
After her death, Babbitt became a right-wing martyr, and attacks and threats aimed at Byrd often focused on his race; the officer is a Black man.
Trump’s video message, aired during a celebration of what would have been Babbitt’s birthday, didn’t go into her alleged actions. Rather, he described her as a victim.
“On that horrible day of Jan. 6, Ashli arrived at the United States Capitol,” Trump said, according to a video of his pre-recorded remarks posted by the journalist Ford Fischer. “She was shot and tragically killed.”
“My heart and the hearts of millions of Americans across the country are with everyone — everyone — who knew and loved her,” Trump said, after wishing Babbitt a happy birthday.
“Together we grieve her terrible loss,” the former president said toward the end of the brief video. “There was no reason Ashli should have lost her life that day. We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family. So on this solemn occasion, as we celebrate her life, we renew our call for a fair and nonpartisan investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt. I offer my unwavering support to asholi’s family, and call on the Department of Justice to reopen its investigation into her death on Jan. 6.”
Law enforcement agencies have investigated Babbitt’s death: The Capitol Police announced in August that its Office of Professional Responsibility “determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy, which says an officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.”
The Capitol Police press statement about the shooting investigation specifically said Babbitt’s own entry into the House Speaker’s lobby, where members of Congress were attempting to evacuate, could have preceded a rush directly on lawmakers.
“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away,” the statement said. “USCP Officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door. If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House Chambers.”
That announcement came several days after the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., as well as the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, closed their own investigation into Babbitt’s death.
“[T]he 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 Justice Department said in an April press release.
Trump held up Babbitt as an innocent victim — and targeted the officer who killed her — repeatedly since January.
In July, he told Maria Bartiromo, “Who was the person who shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman?” A week prior, he’d said at a rally in Florida: “If that were on the other side, the person that did the shooting would be strung up and hung.” At least one person in the crowd responded by shouting “Hang him!”