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Tipsheet

Putin Asks Reporter If US 'Assassinated' Ashli Babbitt

Sergei Ilyin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Days ahead of his summit with President Biden in Geneva, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States was being hypocritical in its criticism of the way his country handles internal dissent.

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During an interview with NBC News, Putin said Russia was no worse than the United States in this regard, and used the government's handling of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as an example.

He even pointed to the arrests of hundreds of suspects in the U.S. Capitol riot and the death of one rioter as proof that the U.S. also targets its citizens for their political opinions, just as Russia is accused of stifling dissent. (The FBI has arrested people for the violence inflicted on the seat of government in Washington, rather than for their political opinions.)

"We have a saying: 'Don't be mad at the mirror if you are ugly,'" he said. "It has nothing to do with you personally. But if somebody blames us for something, what I say is, why don't you look at yourselves? You will see yourselves in the mirror, not us."

Putin showed flashes of defiance when he was asked whether it was a "coincidence" that several other political rivals had been assassinated in recent years.

"We don't have this kind of habit, of assassinating anybody," Putin said when he was asked whether he ordered Navalny killed. (NBC News)

He then countered by asking whether the U.S. was guilty of assassinating Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot. 

“Secondly, I want to ask you: Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?” Putin said. “Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering Congress? And they didn’t go there to steal a laptop. They came with political demands. 450 people have been detained. They’re facing jail time, from 15 to 20 years. And they came to Congress with political demands. Isn’t that persecution for political opinions?”

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Babbitt's family has filed a lawsuit for records from Washington, D.C., that would name the identity of the officer who fatally shot her. The Department of Justice said in April it would not pursue charges against the U.S. Capitol Police officer responsible for her death. 

"The investigation further determined that Ms. Babbitt was among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside 'Speaker’s Lobby,' which leads to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives," the DOJ said in a press release. "At the time, the USCP was evacuating Members from the Chamber, which the mob was trying to enter from multiple doorways.  USCP officers used furniture to barricade a set of glass doors separating the hallway and Speaker’s Lobby to try and stop the mob from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the Chamber, and three officers positioned themselves between the doors and the mob.  Members of the mob attempted to break through the doors by striking them and breaking the glass with their hands, flagpoles, helmets, and other objects.  Eventually, the three USCP officers positioned outside the doors were forced to evacuate.  As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out.  An officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor.  A USCP emergency response team, which had begun making its way into the hallway to try and subdue the mob, administered aid to Ms. Babbitt, who was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she succumbed to her injuries."

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The statement continued: "The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242.  Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber."

Babbitt was unarmed at the time she was fatally shot. 

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