For months, former President Donald Trump and other leading MAGA figures have called for the outing of the police officer who fatally shot pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt during the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6. This week, they are finally getting their wish—but the officer appears to be doing so on his own terms.
On Wednesday, NBC announced that NBC News anchor Lester Holt will “sit down in an exclusive interview with the U.S. Capitol Police officer responsible for shooting and killing protestor Ashli Babbitt while defending the U.S. House Chamber.” The NBC release stated that the interview is currently set to air at 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Nightly News, and does not identify the officer.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter tells The Daily Beast that this officer is a lieutenant and a 28-year veteran of the department. He spent about the last two decades in his current position, and on Jan. 6, his charge was security for the entire House floor. This source added that this officer was not assigned to any specific member’s detail, contradicting what has been publicly asserted by Trump and others.
Following months of speculation from Trumpworld and GOP cliques, this is the first time that the police officer is publicly confirming his identity, as it relates to the shooting on that day. NBC says that “the officer will share his perspective on the events of that day, including the aftermath of the deadly insurrection and the threats he has received.”
The Holt interview was taped Wednesday morning, with other people present there to support the officer coming forward. One of the guests was Michael Fanone, a D.C. Metropolitan police officer who has been outspoken about his experiences at and after the anti-democratic riot in Washington, D.C.
“He’s a hero to me,” Fanone told The Daily Beast on Wednesday afternoon, declining to name the officer at this time. “I'm incredibly humbled to have been able to be there to support him this morning [during the taping of the interview]. I don't even have the words to describe how difficult this is for him and his family… He is essentially sacrificing himself at the altar of our democracy today in pursuit of the truth.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that an internal review had cleared the officer of his actions on Jan. 6. Babbitt was shot by the officer when she attempted to enter a restricted space in the Capitol through a broken window near where lawmakers were evacuating.
On Wednesday afternoon, a Capitol Police spokesperson emailed that the department is “not facilitating the interview” and that the “Department is not facilitating any interviews with officers this week.” The spokesperson also referred The Daily Beast to a Monday USCP statement that includes the line, “The officer in this case, who is not being identified for the officer’s safety, will not be facing internal discipline.”
Still, in various conservative circles, and in some far-right corners of Capitol Hill, Babbitt has been rebranded not as a violent rioter but heralded as a martyr. In June, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said Babbitt was “executed,” alleging, “the Capitol Police officer that did that shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and then gave no warning before killing her.”
But Babbitt’s most prominent advocate is none other than the leader of the Republican Party, former President Trump, who was impeached over his lead role in instigating the bloody riot.
As The Daily Beast reported last month, Trump, since leaving office early this year, has privately complained that he should have lowered the White House flag to half-staff to honor Babbitt, in part because she was an Air Force vet. In public, the ex-president has vehemently denounced the actions of the officer and pushed for the officer’s name to be revealed.
“Who is the person that shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman, a military woman?” Trump said during a Fox News interview in July. “There’s no repercussions.”
The former president also insisted, citing zero evidence, that the officer in question was on the security detail of a top Democratic lawmaker. That claim was quickly challenged by law enforcement sources.
“I will tell you they know who shot Ashli Babbitt,” Trump said on Fox. “They’re protecting that person. I have heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official, a Democrat.”