Former President Donald Trump said in a statement on Tuesday after meeting with the family of Ashli Babbitt, the 35-year-old woman killed while storming the Capitol building in January, that Babbitt was “murdered at the hands of someone who should have never pulled the trigger of his gun.”
Babbitt was one of five people who died as a result of the Jan. 6 riot, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died days after Trump supporters staged a riot at the Capitol and breached the building to prevent the certification of the presidential election results.
More than 100 Capitol and D.C. officers were injured in the riot and four have taken their lives in the time after they defended the Capitol.
The U.S. Justice Department announced in April that it would not charge the officer who shot Babbitt as the Air Force veteran climbed through the broken part of a door to the Speaker’s Lobby — behind which lawmakers were sheltering — during the insurrection.
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” the department said in a statement.
But Trump contended that the officer who shot Babbitt was a murderer on Wednesday and said things would have gone differently if it had happened to “the other side.”
The statement continued, “If that happened to the ‘other side,’ there would be riots all over America and yet, there are far more people represented by Ashli, who truly loved America, than there are on the other side.”
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California told MSNBC on Wednesday that Trump’s comments endangered the life of the officer who shot Babbitt. “That officer’s life sadly is in danger,” he said.
“I am alive today and my colleagues are alive because he had to make that fateful decision, one that no officer wants to make.”
Some Republicans had lionized Babbitt for months.
In July, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar said Babbitt had been “executed” and demanded to know who pulled the trigger. “Her life mattered,” Gosar said. “We do not allow the execution of citizens by street ‘justice’ in our country.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office condemned the remarks supporting the rioter as “disgusting” on Thursday after Trump’s statement.
“The former President’s threat against a U.S. Capitol Police officer is only the latest in a long line of vile Republican attacks on the officers who risked their lives to protect the U.S. Capitol on January 6th,” the statement said.
“Enough is enough. These attacks are disgusting, wrong and a wholly unacceptable way to treat the men and women who went through hell to protect our democracy from armed insurrectionists,” Pelosi spokesperson Robyn Patterson continued.
“It’s long overdue for Minority Leader [Kevin] McCarthy to get off of his hands and stand up to the members of his conference and party who have been terrorizing the brave officers that saved the lives of countless workers, staff, journalists and Members on January 6th. It is no less than these heroes deserve.”
On social media, users responded to the controversy. Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh wrote, “It’s very sad that Ashli Babbitt died. But she’s not a hero. She’s not a martyr. And shame on anyone trying to turn her into one. And yes, I do know that Donald Trump is incapable of shame.”
Bishop Talbert Swann called Babbitt a “terrorist” who “should’ve complied.”
Commentator Chris Hahn claimed Trump was responsible for Babbitt’s death, writing, “If Trump really wants justice for terrorist Ashli Babbitt he should turn himself in. He radicalized her. He sent her there. He alone is why she’s dead.”
Trump ended his statement by calling for justice in Babbitt’s death. “The Radical Left haters cannot be allowed to get away with this. There must be justice!”
Babbitt’s family has filed a suit forcing Washington D.C. to release the name of the officer who shot Babbitt and is seeking “well above $10 million” from the U.S. Capitol Police in a separate upcoming lawsuit.