McCarthy breaks with Greene on death of Ashli Babbitt

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) broke with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Thursday when asked about the death of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by Capitol police during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, concluding she was not murdered, as Greene has said.

“I think the police officer did his job,” McCarthy told reporters when asked if he agreed with Greene that Babbitt was murdered.

Babbitt’s case came back into the spotlight this week when Greene compared her case with that of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten by officers in Memphis.

During a meeting of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Tuesday, Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) invoked Nichols’s case when calling for restoring the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which was recently disbanded.

When it was Greene’s turn to speak, she called the video of Nichols’s arrest “tragic and extremely difficult to watch” before turning her attention to Babbitt.

“I think that the judge and the jury and the trial needs to work out what happened there, but I share that with you,” she Greene said of the Nichols case, adding “but I’d like to also point something that I’d hope you share with me.”

“There’s a woman in this room whose daughter was murdered on Jan. 6, Ashli Babbitt. And Ashli Babbitt has, there’s never been a trial. As a matter of fact, no one has cared about the person that shot and killed her and no one in this Congress has really addressed that issue,” she added.

Authorities last week dropped charges filed against Babbitt’s mother, Micki Witthoeft, after she illegally blocked traffic and disobeyed an order from police on the two-year anniversary of the Capitol riot.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has used similar language, and during a meeting of the Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday, she said “it was very tragic when Ashli Babbitt was murdered.” The congresswoman was also seen speaking with Babbitt’s mother during a meeting of the Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

The Capitol Police in August 2021 announced that the officer who shot Babbitt would not face internal discipline following an investigation.

“USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) 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 department wrote in a statement.

And in April 2021, the Department of Justice said it would not pursue criminal charges against the officer.

The relationship between Greene and McCarthy has evolved in recent months, with the Georgia Republican becoming one of the GOP leader’s staunchest supporters. After announcing in 2021 that McCarthy “doesn’t have the full support to be Speaker,” Greene last year emerged as one of his most vocal advocates as he worked to secure the gavel.

McCarthy has also elevated the firebrand lawmaker in the GOP conference. After Greene was stripped of her committee assignments in 2021 as punishment for embracing conspiracy theories, McCarthy placed her on panels in this congressional session — including the powerful Oversight Committee.

During a brief interview with The New York Times, McCarthy said “I will never leave that woman,” referring to Greene. “I will always take care of her.”

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