“Together, we grieve her terrible loss. There was no reason Ashli should’ve lost her life that day. 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 nonpartisan investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt,” Trump said in the video.
Let’s talk about who Ashli Babbitt was. After serving 14 years in the Air Force and in two wars, Babbitt ended her military career living in Lakeside, California, a suburb of San Diego, with her husband Aaron Babbitt, 39. She was struggling to maintain a pool supply business with her brother but started to spend more and more of her free time on social media, espousing her pro-Trump and QAnon conspiracy theories.
Babbitt had a history of unhinged behavior. The New York Times reports that in 2016, her husband’s former girlfriend filed a restraining order against Babbitt, then known as Ashli McEntee after she approached the woman and rear-ended her car three times.
In 2018, Babbitt recorded and posted two videos to her Twitter page, raging about immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Those videos have since been removed.
“I’m driving right now, but I’m like really heated all of a sudden,” she said, The New York Post reported. “I am so sick of these politicians in this goddamned state, they’re all worried about what Trump is doing. How about we worry about what the hell you’re doing?
“Maxine Waters, what have you done? You’re talking about, oh, this thing at the border, it’s a political ploy that Trump’s done. Where are you? You’re not even here!”
The day before her death, she tweeted about a potentially violent uprising to overturn the Trump loss.
On Jan. 6. Babbitt, backed by a horde of Trump supporters, attempted to climb through one of the doors leading to the lobby of the House of Representatives chamber. Capitol Police Officer, Lt. Michael Byrd tried to hold them off. Byrd and a few other officers barricaded the door with furniture to keep the rioters out.
“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” Byrd, a 28 year veteran of the Capitol Police told NBC News’ Lester Holt.
The mob continued to push forward, even after Byrd yelled for them to get back. Then Babbitt, hoisted by someone, tried to climb through the door where the glass had been broken. Byrd fired one shot, hitting Babbitt in the upper torso. She fell back and later died from her wound.
The far-right, including Trump, has decried the shooting as murder and suggested that Byrd, who is Black, worked for a high-ranking Democrat. Byrd has gotten death threats and racist attacks since that day.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd told Holt. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”
It was the first time Byrd fired his weapon in his 28 years on the force. He added that, as far as having a political agenda goes, “I do my job for Republican, for Democrat, for white, for Black, red, blue, green,” he told Holt. “I don’t care about your affiliation.”
So, when Trump called for the Department of Justice to reopen the investigation into Babbitt’s death in his birthday video for Babbitt—after Byrd was officially exonerated in August—again, he’s opening a wound for the sole purpose of pouring salt and stirring hate.
Dean Obeidallah, host of The Dean Obeidallah Show on SiriusXM, made the point on Twitter that perhaps Trump took a lesson from Hitler’s playbook when, after the Nazi leader’s failed coup in 1923, he too honored those who waged it in his name.