Wray is a repeat from Tuesday, where he was present to answer questions about the intelligence leading up to Jan. 6. However, in the middle of that questioning, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar suddenly turned on Wray with a question that shows how Republicans have not just become more comfortable with the violence and chaos of that day. Gosar took the opportunity, not to ask Wray what he knew about the white supremacist extremist behind the assault on the Capitol, but to demand the name of the Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt while she was trying to break into the House chamber.
Because as the Republicans try to rewrite Jan. 6 into a peaceful tour of the Capitol by a collection of patriots, Babbitt is being raised up as a martyr to the cause. A martyr that Gosar claimed was “executed” by the police.
Though Gosar clearly knew that Wray was the wrong person to ask, even if he was genuinely interested in the response, he used every moment to display his supposed anger about the shooting of Babbitt. He also repeatedly demanded the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot after accusing that officer of “lying in wait” for Babbitt. “Do you approve of lethal force against unarmed citizens,” Gosar asked the FBI director, “particularly a 110-pound woman, with no warning, no use of nonlethal force prior and while lying in wait?” In Gosar’s definition, lying in wait apparently includes being fully visible, in clear view of both Babbitt and everyone else trying to smash their way into the room, with gun held out and directed straight at the door. And “with no warning” apparently includes repeated warnings what were audible in recordings of the scene before Babbitt tried to climb through the opening.
As The Washington Post reports, this isn’t the first time Gosar has made this demand. During a May hearing, he demanded that former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen tell him “Who executed Ashli Babbitt?” On both occasions, Gosar has tried to draw parallels between Babbitt and Black Americans killed by police violence. Gosar was one of 21 Republicans who voted against honoring the police who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6.
In his angry questioning of Wray, Gosar got the obvious answer—the FBI director didn’t know the name of the officer, as the officer involved didn’t work for the FBI and the FBI was not involved in the investigation of Babbitt’s shooting. Gosar was surely aware of this. He’s also aware that the officer has faced multiple death threats since the shooting.
It didn’t take Rep. Liz Cheney long to tweet her response. “On January 6, as the violent mob advanced on the House chamber, I was standing near @RepGosar and helped him open his gas mask. The Capitol Police led us to safety. It is disgusting and despicable to see Gosar lie about that day and smear the men and women who defended us.”
Wednesday’s testimony featured Flynn and Piatt comes after previous documents and testimony before the Oversight Committee showed that Capitol Police and D.C. Metro Police made over a dozen requests to the Pentagon for the National Guard to come. As TPM reported on Tuesday, Pentagon officials told the national guard unit to “standby” five times—and that included at points significantly after the time when the Guard had supposedly been released to assist.
It was Piatt who told police begging for help that “military presence could make the situation worse and that the optics were bad.” Meanwhile, even Mike Pence, who stepped in to order the Guard’s deployment after Trump stood back to watch, couldn’t seem to understand what was going on “Why were more troops not provided in advance?” Pence asked.
It should be an interesting day House Oversight Committee.
(Note: A link to Wednesday’s hearing should be available shortly.)