We’ve done pretty well ignoring most of the fascism-peddling bullshit that the rapidly decaying Dear Leader has been dishing out daily as the man slides unequivocally into decompensation and delusion. Still, Trump’s continued defense of violent insurrection is not something that can be brushed off—especially now that we know with certainty that Trump and top allies were pairing that mob violence with an internal coup attempt.
Trump’s reasons for believing the violent mob that stormed the Capitol to be “patriots” are self-evident. They were assembled by his allies so that he could personally goad them into thwarting the formal acknowledgment of the election that he had just lost, pressuring his vice president and targeted lawmakers into inventing some mechanism by which he would be declared the “real” leader regardless of the vote or the Constitution. They were a key part of the Trump team’s plan. After the failure of Trump’s demands that Georgia alter their election results in his favor and an attempt to use the Justice Department to sow doubt in the election’s legitimacy, using an assembled mob of militia members, American fascists, conspiracy theorists, and other allies to pressure Congress into scrapping the election was the only option left.
Of course, Trump is focused on the officer who held off a violent crowd attempting to break into an area holding sheltering lawmakers—the very target of the mob’s hunt. If that officer had let the mob break through, it would have been able to take lawmakers hostage, using the situation to “force” Congress to recognize Trump as the “real” election winner. That one shot may, in Trump’s delusional mind, have been the one that thwarted his rebellion. I’m sure he hates that officer with all his soggy heart.
For the record, the incident was investigated, and, perhaps obviously, no wrongdoing was found. The officer acted with both courage and restraint. Footage captured on mob cellphones shows the gun was clearly visible to the crowd. The crowd shouted warnings to each other. Still, Babbitt attempted to climb through the window and make her way to the officer, apparently believing that the officer was bluffing. He wasn’t. Babbitt had already proven herself to be violent as part of the crowd that assaulted officers guarding the door, broke through the door’s window even as officers were guarding it, forced those guarding officers to retreat, and moved to enter the Speaker’s Lobby after committing all those other crimes.
That the officer only shot her once, causing her to fall back through the window, was an act of supreme professionalism.
Trump and fascist allies have stoked theories that the officer was guarding one of Trump’s top targets, someone important enough that an officer was willing to shoot Babbitt rather than allow the crowd to capture. It’s a claim intended to rile up violent supporters further—Babbitt died because one of Trump’s political enemies caused her to die. The truth appears to be that the officer was acting to defend lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The day after the insurrection, Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin praised the officer. “When they broke the glass in the back, the lieutenant that was there, him and I already had multiple conversations prior to this, and he didn’t have a choice at the time,” he recounted. Mullin said he believed the officer’s actions to have “saved people’s lives.”
It’s impossible to believe that fascist Republicans will let up before publicly unveiling the name of the officer who protected Congress from Babbitt and the mob, and it’s doubly impossible to believe that Donald Trump will not continue to press for it. An unnamed officer may have bought lawmakers enough time to be rescued, thwarting the mob and Trump alike. If any lawmaker had been captured of either party, it seems almost certain militants within the crowd would have either killed that lawmaker or held them hostage to demand that their peers vote for Trump’s baffling election-voiding scheme. There’s no telling how many people might have died in the resulting standoff.
Trump, a delusional authoritarian monster, has no doubt stewed under the illusion that things might have worked out if the mob had been able to accomplish its objectives. But he’s a monster, and we don’t have to give a shit.
Among Republicans, so far, it seems to be only Rep. Liz Cheney who is loudly calling out Trump’s violence-provoking new statement. Many other Republican lawmakers have previously publicly allied with Trump’s attempts to expose the officer who protected them; all but a handful of Republicans continue to downplay the insurrection as they block attempts to investigate its origins.
In the states, the focus is on throwing up new obstacles to voting so that the communities that helped defeat Trump in November are winnowed down in the final vote totals. Among Trump’s most loyal allies, the focus is on portraying those willing to stage violent insurrection on Republicans’ behalf as the nation’s truest patriots—and the government officials that worked to stop them as the movement’s enemies.