A congressional oversight hearing on the Jan. 6th riot once again set tempers flaring, with Donald Trump loyalist Rep. Paul Gosar saying Capitol Police ‘executed’ Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt after she stormed the Capitol.
The same hearing featured Trump’s acting defense secretary during the riot telling told Congress he stood by his decisions on the day – angering representatives by refusing to repeat his claim that the former president incited the riot.
The result was an unseemly row during a House Oversight Committee hearing between Christopher Miller and Democratic Representative Stephen Lynch, accusing each other of being ridiculous.
Gosar, an Arizona Republican, defended Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who breached the Capitol and was shot by a Capitol Police officer just outside the House Speaker’s Lobby as a MAGA mob sought to enter the House chamber.
Gosar said during questioning of acting AG Jeffrey Rosen that Babbit was ‘executed.’
Babbitt sought to climb through a broken window while lawmakers were trapped inside the House chamber.
Federal prosecutors said there was ‘insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution’ of the Capitol Police officer who shot her.
The hearing elicited little new information about the preparations and response to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
A mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.
Five people died, and dozens of officers were injured trying to hold the crowd back.
Hundreds of people have been charged for taking part in the insurrection, with the charges ranging from disorderly conduct and conspiracy to obstruction of an official proceeding.
Lynch asked Miller if he stood by an earlier interview in which he blamed Trump for triggering the riot.
‘I think I’d like to modify my original assessment,’ said Miller.
‘Why am I not surprised,’ said Lynch.
Miller added that subsequent evidence showed there were organized, armed elements in the crowd that were intent on assaulting the Capitol.
Lynch then read a comment made by Miller in an interview with Vice.
‘Would anybody have marched on the Capitol and tried to overrun the Capitol without the president’s speech,’ he said. ‘I think it is pretty much definitive that would not have happened.’
Miller responded by saying it was not the ‘unitary factor’ prompting Lynch asked whether he still stood by something he said in testimony earlier, when he said: ‘I personally believe his comments encouraged the protesters that day.’
When Miller said it was a fair comment accused him of rapidly changing his mind.
‘That was this morning,’ he said. ‘This is a very recent reversal of your testimony.
‘Absolutely not that’s ridiculous,’ said Miller.
‘You’re ridiculous,’ responded Lynch.
In a defensive performance, Miller said he stood by decisions he made on the day and accusations that it took too long for troops to arrive were unwarranted.
‘Criticism of the military response is unfounded and reflects inexperience with or a lack of understanding of military operations, or worse is simply the result of politics,’ he said.
He added that he feared deploying troops ahead of protests could fan growing fears of a military coup. And he insisted he acted as fast as possible.
‘This isn’t a video game where you can move forces with the flick of a thumb,’ he said.
Security agencies have all faced criticism for allowing protesters to mass around the U.S. Capitol before storming the building itself.