Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump’s continued claims of election fraud in an to overturn the results before Congress finalizes them in a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
One of the leading House Republicans in the “Stop the Steal” movement used a House committee hearing about the January 6 Capitol insurrection to downplay the riots and complain about what he views as the persecution of “peaceful patriots.”
“Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens, especially Trump voters,” Gosar said at the hearing Wednesday. “The FBI is fishing through homes of veterans and citizens with no criminal record and restricting the liberties of individuals who have never been accused of a crime.”
Gosar has himself been credited by the organizer of the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the riot with helping to plan the events of that day. His own family has also blamed him for the riot. And House Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal filed an ethics complaint against him calling for an investigation “for his involvement in instigating and aiding the violent riot,” which Gosar has called “frivolous, ill-conceived, and defamatory.”
In one exchange, Gosar asked former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen if Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was killed by a fire extinguisher, referring to initial, inaccurate statements by law enforcement following Sicknick’s death. Rosen replied that Sicknick “acted as one of many heroes that day,” and Gosar responded by emphasizing that Sicknick “died of natural causes.”
While the chief medical examiner of D.C. ruled last month that Sicknick suffered two strokes caused by a blood clot and died as a result, the medical examiner also told the Washington Post that Sicknick’s efforts to contain the riot and “all that transpired played a role in his condition,” even if there wasn’t evidence of internal or external injuries.
Gosar also used the hearing on Wednesday to call Ashli Babbitt, the Trump supporter who was shot and killed by Capitol Police during the riot, a “veteran wrapped in the American flag.” He added that Babbitt was unarmed, and referred to her death as a homicide.
“Who executed Ashli Babbitt?” Gosar asked Rosen. The officer who killed Babbitt has not been identified, and the Justice Department said last month that they wouldn’t charge the cop.
Gosar also referred to Babbitt’s death as an execution in a Wednesday morning tweet during the hearing. “The people have a right to know: who executed an unarmed 100lb woman at point-blank range with no warnings, no commands or non-lethal force?” Gosar wrote.
During the hearing, the Arizona congressman also seemed to imply that a crowd of rioters violently overrunning the U.S. Capitol wasn’t an insurrection.
“To my knowledge, not a single person has been charged with the crime of insurrection,” Gosar said.
More than 400 people have been charged in connection with the riots so far, with crimes ranging from violent entry and disorderly conduct to conspiracy.