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Former President Donald Trump recorded a video message praising Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon supporter who was shot dead by Capitol Police during the Jan. 6 insurrection, pledging his “unwavering” support to her family and friends.
The video message, played at an event in Texas to mark what would have been Babbitt’s 36th birthday, is Trump’s latest attempt to turn the Air Force veteran into a martyr and absolve himself of any wrongdoing in fomenting the violence on Capitol Hill that day.
“Together, we grieve her terrible loss,” Trump said of Babbitt, calling her a “truly incredible person,” even though he never met her or any member of her family. The video was subsequently played on right-wing conspiracy network One America News.
The “Texas Loves Ashli Babbitt” event, held in Freeport on Sunday, was organized by Al Manica, self-dubbed “Crazy Christian Artist,” who played a song he wrote for Babbitt during the celebration.
Video from the event posted on Twitter by News2Share’s Ford Fischer shows fewer than two dozen people in attendance.
Speakers at the event included Babbitt’s husband and her mother, who received a loud cheer when she said, "Fuck off and die, Nancy Pelosi!"
Babbitt had expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory in the months before her death. As a result, Trump supporters and QAnon followers quickly turned her into a martyr and spread conspiracies about her death.
Trump has leaned in to these conspiracies in recent months, and in his video message he once again hinted at a shadowy cover-up in the case and called for the Justice Department to reopen its investigation.
“We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family, so on this solemn occasion, as we celebrate her life, we renew our call for a fair and non-partisan investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt,” Trump said.
“I offer my unwavering support to Ashli’s family and call on the Department of Justice to reopen its investigation into her death on January 6th. Like all Americans, you deserve a fair process, you deserve answers, and you deserve justice,” Trump said, though there’s no evidence that he’s done anything to support Babbitt’s family beyond recording this video. He has, however, used her death to help his neverending fundraising efforts.
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar also sent a video message, and like Trump alluded to QAnon conspiracies about Babbitt’s murder being a cover-up. ”The family, and indeed all Americans, deserve full transparency and accountability surrounding the murder of Ashli," Gosar said.
Babbitt, who served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and later deployed with the National Guard to Kuwait and Qatar, was shot by a Capitol Police officer on Jan. 6 while she was attempting to climb through a doorway to the Speaker’s Lobby while rioters around her smashed windows.
The Justice Department concluded in April that the office in question was cleared of any wrongdoing by federal prosecutors. They concluded the shooting was reasonable as the officer was acting in self-defense or in defense of members of Congress.
And last month, an internal investigation by the Capitol Police also found no wrongdoing by the officer who shot Babbitt, concluding that the officer’s use of force was within the department’s guidelines.
While the Capitol Police never named the officer, Lt. Michael Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the force, spoke publicly in August in an interview with NBC News.
He said he fired his gun that day only as a “last resort” because he was trying to protect House members and staff, who were sheltering beyond the glass doors of the Speaker’s Lobby.
Before Byrd went public, Trump was stoking conspiracies among his supporters by telling a press conference in July that he knew exactly who shot the former Air Force officer. At that point, Byrd’s name had been circulating in right-wing channels and message boards for months.
He also sent a conspiratorial email to his supporters around the same time, simply asking: "Who killed Ashli Babbitt?"
Nowhere in Trump’s video message to Babbitt’s family did he refer to the role he played in the Jan. 6 violence on Capitol Hill, such as the speech he gave in front of the White House, during which he told thousands of his supporters to march on the Capitol building where former Vice President Mike Pence was about to certify the election results—actions which ultimately got him impeached for the second time.