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On Ashli Babbitt, Trump pushes McCarthy to stick to the script

On Ashli Babbitt, Kevin McCarthy dared to contradict Marjorie Taylor Greene. Donald Trump was not pleased.

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was asked whether he agreed with right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s claim — made during a House Oversight Committee hearing — that Ashli Babbitt was “murdered” during the Jan. 6 attack. The California Republican’s response was brief but clear.

“I think the police officer did his job,” McCarthy told reporters. He quickly moved on to the next question without elaborating.

Donald Trump was not pleased. Here was the message the former president published last night:

“I totally disagree with the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, in that the Police Officer ‘Thug,’ who has had a very checkered past to begin with, was not just ‘doing his job’ when he shot and killed Great Patriot Ashli Babbitt at point blank range. Despite trying to keep him anonymous, shielded, and protected, this MISFIT proudly showed up on NBC Fake Nightly News ‘bragging’ about the killing. He was not a hero but a COWARD, who wanted to show how tough he was. ASHLI BABBITT WAS MURDERED!!!”

For those who might need a refresher, let’s revisit our earlier coverage and review how we arrived at this point.

During the Jan. 6 attack, a group of rioters reached a doorway that led to a House chamber hallway. That hallway was an escape route for lawmakers who could see the attackers through glass windows.

As regular readers know, when rioters smashed through those windows, one of the insurrectionists, Babbitt, tried to break through to enter the hallway where members of Congress were being evacuated. Officers asked her to stand down. She refused. A police officer eventually fired a single shot, and the rioter later died at a local hospital.

Then-Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a year before the Oklahoma Republican’s election to the Senate, was a witness to the developments and conceded publicly that the officer “did what he had to do” and “didn’t have a choice.” What’s more, the U.S. Capitol Police cleared the lieutenant who fired the shot, and the Justice Department officials who examined the matter determined that charges against the officer were not warranted.

With all of this in mind, when McCarthy said yesterday that the officer “did his job,” the speaker was taking a position in line with the consensus view of what happened.

Trump apparently doesn’t much care for the consensus view of what happened.

Remember, in the months that immediately followed the attack on the Capitol, most leading Republicans, including Trump, expressed little interest in Babbitt. Her death was of great interest to the far-right fringe, but at least initially, the former president did not see her story as worthy of celebration. Trump also didn’t see the need to lash out at the police officer who protected dozens of lawmakers and their aides.

But in June 2021, the Republican said that he saw Babbitt as an ally who was on his “side.” A month later, he said the rioter was “innocent.” A month after that, he accused the officer who shot her of “murder.”

Now, evidently, the former president expects the public to see the cop as a “thug” and a “coward” who deserves to be vilified.

But that’s not all he expects: Trump also wants McCarthy to toe the party line. As far as the former president is concerned, he’s the one who’s supposed to make such determinations, and it’s up to the House speaker to follow Trump’s lead.

It’ll be interesting to see if McCarthy adjusts his position accordingly — and how the former president reacts if he doesn’t.

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