Intelligence agencies say extremists are using lies about Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt to stir violence.
Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday repeated a conspiracy theory about the Capitol Police shooting of rioter Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6 that U.S. intelligence agencies say is being used as a rallying tool by violent extremists.
During a press conference to promote lawsuits he has filed against Facebook and Twitter for banning him from their platforms, Trump said, "The person that shot Ashli Babbitt, boom, right through the head, just boom. There was no reason for that."
Babbitt was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she and other Trump supporters who had breached the Capitol building were attempting to break down a door to a hallway where lawmakers were hiding. The crowd, which attacked the building in an attempt to overturn Trump's election loss to President Joe Biden, made explicit threats against the lives of lawmakers, including former Vice President Mike Pence.
In a press release summarizing its investigation of the shooting, the Department of Justice noted, "Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out. ... The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. Specifically, the 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 department ruled that the shooting of Babbitt was justified and closed the investigation was closed as of April 14.
Gizmodo on Wednesday reported that U.S. intelligence agencies had issued bulletins as soon as a week after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 warning that violent extremists were pushing the false narrative about Babbitt's death that has now been echoed by Trump.
One such bulletin noted that extremists had been using a flag with Babbitt's image, depicting her as "the martyr that was shot in the neck." The flag shows Babbitt under the Capitol dome along with four stars standing for "the 4 Martyrs" killed that day. Gizmodo notes that none of the other three people who died as a result of the riot were killed by police.
"Many [domestic violent extremists] are using this as a battle flag and have encouraged any future actions be done under the banner of this flag," the bulletin notes. "Many Boogaloo affiliated accounts on Twitter are urging followers to 'raise the black flag' or 'fly the black flag' ... On various platforms, many anti-Government violent extremists ... are using this flag as their profile photos."
The Boogaloo Boys militia advocates for a second civil war within the United States.
Trump has not been alone among Republicans in invoking Babbitt's shooting to raise suspicions about the government response to the insurrection on Jan. 6.
In a May speech on the floor of the House, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) asked, "Who killed Ashli Babbitt, and why is that not being revealed? Does her family not deserve justice?"
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) told FBI Director Christopher Wray during a congressional hearing in June that Babbitt was "executed" and said, "The Capitol Police officer that did that shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and then gave no warning before killing her."
The Washington Post reported that, according to an attorney for the police officer, prior to the shooting, the police officer had identified himself clearly and ordered the rioters not to proceed.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.