Marjorie Taylor Greene defends ‘abused’ Capitol rioters and Ashli Babbitt in House floor speech

Republican congresswoman demands investigation into Black Lives Matter protests as GOP rejects bipartisan investigation into pro-Trump assault

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 18 May 2021 21:31 BST
Marjorie Taylor Greene claims Capitol rioters are victims of 'abuse' in House speech opposing riot investigation
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Far-right US Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene has joined GOP opposition to a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection.

In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, the congresswoman asked a series of “what about” questions to deflect from an investigation into the attack, fuelled by former President Donald Trump’s false “stolen” election narrative and amplified by his GOP allies like Ms Greene.

She said: “The question that comes to mind is this: What about all the riots that happened during the summer of 2020 after the death of George Floyd? What about the damage caused to federal buildings, churches, people’s businesses and innocent people that were killed? ... Is that not an insurrection?”

She also claimed that Capitol rioters have been “abused” in jail and “held for 23 hours a day in solitary confinement”.

She also called for “justice” for the killing of Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by a US Capitol Police officer as a mob attempted to break through the House chamber doors on 6 January.

“And lastly, when will the witch hunt of Donald J Trump come to an end and all of those who support him?” she said.

Her defence on Tuesday follows a statement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to oppose an effort led by a Republican congressman and Democrats to form a bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly assault on the Capitol.

He claimed that “the renewed focus by Democrats to now stand up an additional commission ignores the political violence that has struck American cities” in 2020.

The House Republican leader also accused Nancy Pelosi of refusing to “negotiate in good faith on basic parameters” for the committee, despite the House Speaker agreeing to all GOP demands, including equal representation and shared subpoena power among both parties.

Four months after the assault, Republican lawmakers have aligned behind efforts to deflect responsibility by alleging Democrat complicity in protest violence in the wake of antiracist uprisings.

Republicans have sought to downplay the attack, which saw 150 injured police officers, and two officers who assisted in the response died by suicide in the days that followed. One officer died after suffering two strokes and injuries from the riot.

US Rep Paul Gosar – who supported “Stop the Steal” campaigns that preceded the riot – claimed during a congressional hearing on 12 May that “outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law abiding US citizens, especially Trump voters”.

Mr Gosar described rioters as “peaceful patriots” and Ms Babbitt as a “veteran wrapped in the American flag” and “executed”.

“You would think it was a normal tourist visit,” Republican US Rep Andrew Clyde said at the hearing. “There was no insurrection. To call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie.”

The “real” insurrection, he claimed, was the FBI’s investigation into “Russia, Russia, Russia” following the 2016 elections.

“For the life of me I don’t know why this is at all controversial,” said House Rules Committee chair Jim McGovern during a committee hearing on formation of a riot commission on Tuesday.

“This is not a game,” he said. “I was here on January 6. We saw what happened ... This can’t be politics as usual, business as usual, or delay, delay, delay or ‘Donald Trump is having a temper tantrum and doesn’t want us to talk about these issues.’ That’s unacceptable. That’s an abdication of our responsibility as members of Congress.”

In a statement, Speaker Pelosi said it is “disappointing but not surprising” that there is “cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side” to oppose the commission.

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