As the far right continues its bid to make a martyr out of Ashli Babbitt, two Republican members of Congress have said in recent days that her killing was justified.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told an angry caller this week that he was “grateful” for the actions of the officer who shot and killed her, while Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), who witnessed the shooting, said on C-SPAN last week that Babbitt gave the officer “no choice.”
The remarks sparked rage from some on the right who have sought to spin Babbitt’s death as an example of an unjust government killing, recasting Jan. 6 as a case of violent misrule as opposed to an attempt to overthrow the government.
It’s also been a boon for people trying to stoke outrage over the theory — popular on the right — that the officer who shot Babbitt was a black man.
“‘Conservative’ Republican hugged Black killer of unarmed White veteran and patriot, Ashley Babbitt (sic), while Trump says her killer was a ‘Democrat,'” read one white supremacist post on Telegram, reposted by alt-right influencer Eric Striker. The post referred to comments from Mullin, who said he comforted the officer who killed Babbitt. “Republicans are too cowardly and treacherous to stand up for the White people who elect them,” it read.
Babbitt was killed on Jan. 6 as she tried to break through a doorway into the House Speaker’s Lobby, on the other side of which members of Congress were still evacuating.
Calls to release the officer’s name have seeped into the ether of the conservative ecosystem, with Fox News host Tucker Carlson demanding to know the person’s name. Act For America has moved on from its traditional anti-Muslim messaging to demand the name of the person who “murdered” Babbitt.
President Trump knows who shot Ashli Babbitt.
— ACTforAmerica (@ACTforAmerica) July 29, 2021
Former president Trump has joined far-right politicians like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in demanding to know the identity of the officer who killed her, while emitting dog whistles about the cop’s alleged race.
He declined, telling the person that “the person that shot her is a police officer shooting a criminal violating — not complying with officers telling her ‘stop, don’t come through that window, we have guns drawn, don’t do it.'”
The caller pressed Cramer, saying that when illegal aliens are killed, the identity of the officer is released. Why not for an American citizen?
Cramer replied by brandishing his pro-cop bonafides.
“I’m the one who personally does not think that there is a right to know the name of every police officer who shoots a criminal or perpetrator,” he said.
Cramer added that the shooting was a “textbook situation,” and that he is “just grateful for this person, quite honestly” before the radio host cut the caller off.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) recounted his experience of witnessing the shooting on C-SPAN last week.
Mullin narrated seeing the officer alone at the end of the Speaker’s Lobby with his gun drawn, “giving commands” to the crowd that was trying to break through.
“My mind started going on — if they breach that door, we will have to engage them really quick,” Mullin recalled. “And that engagement would be whatever it took to stop them.”
Mullin added that the officer was forced to shoot.
“It wasn’t his choice,” Mullin said. “He was doing his job, and he got put in a situation where he had to do his job because there were members in the balcony.”
Proponents of the idea that Babbitt was a martyr have argued, based on video footage of the event, that the officer did not warn Babbitt or adequately present his weapon before shooting.
Mullin denied that.
“If you present your weapon and give commands and they still approach — you don’t have a choice,” he said, before implying that had the crowd broken through to the chamber, many other rioters would have been killed.
“He saved other people’s lives along the way,” Mullin said. “We wouldn’t have had a choice but to use lethal force.”
“He did not want to use lethal force at all.”
He went on to recall going to a triage center in the Capitol later that day for officers, seeing people with broken bones and one person “with his eye completely gouged out.”
“It’s remarkable to me that only one person lost their lives by gunshot — it’s unfortunate, it’s unfortunate — but it could have been so much worse,” he added.