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House GOP flocks to police event one day after members question Jan. 6 actions

GOP leader McCarthy does not address comments by Clyde, Gosar or Hice

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher hold a wreath to honor fallen law enforcement officers at the Back The Blue Bike Tour event at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington on Thursday, May 13, 2021.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher hold a wreath to honor fallen law enforcement officers at the Back The Blue Bike Tour event at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington on Thursday, May 13, 2021. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The day after some House Republicans recast Jan. 6 rioters as victims, called into question a Capitol Police officer’s line-of-duty death and criticized the actions of a Capitol Police officer who justifiably shot and killed Ashli Babbitt, the conference’s leader did not push back on those members and their positions.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — fresh off a “Back the Blue Bike Tour” ride with members and police — stood with acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher of the Capitol Police in the background and defended Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., who was also in attendance at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

“With all due respect, I was right here with Congressman Clyde laying a wreath for a fallen officer outside of his district,” McCarthy said when asked about the comments of Clyde, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., at a hearing Wednesday.

Asked another time about those members downplaying the Capitol attack, McCarthy did not address the members, only the rioters.

“What happened on the sixth was atrocious,” the Californian Republican said. “When I look at the rioters that came in, those people should be held accountable to the rule of law and that’s exactly what’s happening.”

Clyde said Wednesday that the Capitol attack was “not an insurrection” and criticized the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Babbitt, a pro-Trump rioter who was attempting to climb through a broken window at the Speaker’s Lobby, which abuts the House chamber.

“Also, the only shot fired on January the sixth was from a Capitol Police officer who killed an unarmed protester, Ashli Babbitt,” Clyde said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice last month determined the male Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Babbitt would not face criminal charges.

“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 said at the time.

Nevertheless, Clyde surmised the officer’s action to protect members in imminent danger will “probably be, eventually, be determined to be a needless display of lethal force.”

Gosar, at the same hearing, asked “who executed Ashli Babbitt?,” suggesting that the Capitol Police officer was wrong in shooting her.

Hice called into question the line-of-duty death of Officer Brian Sicknick at the hearing. The Capitol Police classify Sicknick’s death as a line-of-duty death.

“Officer Sicknick, [an] autopsy revealed that he suffered no blunt trauma. In fact, his mother has since come out saying he died of a stroke,” Hice said. “In fact, it was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others. You go down the list here, Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer.”

McCarthy, when asked after the press conference about Hice’s comments regarding Officer Brian Sicknick and the shooting of Babbitt, said he did not see them.

“I haven’t seen what Hice said,” McCarthy said.

When asked if he is going to do anything to address these members about those comments, McCarthy did not respond.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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