To mark the third anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot, The Daily Wire spoke with Micki Witthoeft, the mother of Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who was fatally shot in the halls of Congress that day, as Witthoeft participated in a nightly vigil last week outside the Washington, D.C. jail where many January 6 defendants are being held. The interview, as published below, has been lightly edited for length and clarity and contains some notes in brackets with further information.
DW: Why are you here this evening?
Witthoeft: I’m here because the government murdered my daughter three years ago. I think she deserves an investigation into her death. And I think the men inside deserve fair and accurate sentences and not the overreach we’re seeing.
DW: So it’s not just one person. It’s about everybody who’s been incarcerated?
Witthoeft: It is about the unfair treatment and the violation of people’s constitutional rights. I very much think Ashli’s rights were violated. She served this country four times in the Middle East, she was deployed four times to come home and go to a “Stop the Steal” rally and to come home in a box is completely unacceptable. And then to have your government throw you away like you’re a disposable human — completely unacceptable.
DW: How many nights have you been here at the vigil outside the D.C. jail?
Witthoeft: Probably about 520 now.
DW: How aware do you think the guys on the inside are of what you’re doing out here? And do you think that the demonstrations that you’re doing every night, and speaking with them, of course, gives them hope? Or how does it make them feel?
Witthoeft: It gives them a voice to the outside. When we first got here, they didn’t have visitation, they were being horribly treated by some of the guards and their treatment has improved. They do have visitation now. And some of these people on “Freedom Corner” [at the vigil] will be their visitors on Friday. Some of them have family that can’t make it all the way across the country, especially not every week. So, we go sit in a big room across from each other and fill up the visitation room. So I think that’s been a blessing. There’s a constant in and out of people here because they come here before they go to trial. And then they stay here until they’re sentenced, then they leave and then there’s a constant flow of people — because people continue to get arrested to this day behind the events of January 6.
While 67% of crimes in this city go unprosecuted while they continue to hunt down “MAGA” meemaws and grandmas. They let everything else slide so they can continue to persecute January 6 detainees. … Speedy trial rights went out the window a long time ago. And you can see when you go into these courtrooms that the people are very much judged by the day on the calendar and not their behavior that day. Like I said, it’s excessive sentencing.
Some people in this movement think there should be blanket pardons and I don’t believe that. I believe everybody should be held accountable — and saying that everybody should be held accountable, I mean, [former House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, I mean Michael Byrd [the Capitol Police officer who shot Babbitt], [Rep.] Adam Schiff, [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer all of them. And the American patriots that got out of control that day.
[Editor’s note: The Department of Justice says more than 1,200 people have been charged with crimes in connection to January 6, nearly 900 have pleaded guilty or been convicted, and almost 750 have had their cases adjudicated and received sentences.]
DW: What kind of reforms are you looking for moving forward?
Witthoeft: Well, I think what has become clear to mainstream America, and shame on us for not realizing it sooner, but we have a lot of these guys — it’s their first bout with the law. Not all of them, but most of them. This is mainstream America you have behind the walls of this jail. So I think a lot of us have become aware of the need for prison reform in this country all around.
DW: You mentioned blanket pardons wouldn’t work.
Witthoeft: I don’t think so. I mean, there are some people in this movement that are for them. But I think it would deter a proper investigation into the events of that day. I think if you blanket pardoned people and then their problem goes away, there’ll be less people pushing forward to find out exactly what happened that day.
DW: It would be too easy an answer?
Witthoeft: Well, I think it would allow the government to just shelve it.
DW: Do you think, under the current administration, that might happen? Are you hoping that now that it’s an election year, whoever gets elected — because it is ultimately the Justice Department that’s in charge — do you hope that whoever comes in or if President Joe Biden himself [gets a second term], hears your message and institutes the kind of changing and looking for?
Witthoeft: Biden himself is never going to listen to my message. I think, not disrespectfully to Biden — although I don’t have any respect for Biden — but what I say is not out of disrespect, it’s out of what I see from him. I don’t think he’s competent to run this country. I think he’s very much addle-minded and in his senior decline. I mean, you know it’s just human fact that at a certain point, you’re at your peak and then you’re not anymore. And I think he’s very much not anymore. I don’t think he has the capacity for the intricate situations that arise in this country. I don’t think he’s a good leader at this point.
I go back to sitting in the courtrooms. And some of the judges say, “What an embarrassment January 6 was to this nation.” I don’t find it to be so. I think, you know, the end result was reprehensible. But I don’t think that that was the American citizens as much as it was our government and the assault under color of authority. My daughter’s murder — people are quick to say, “Well, she should have complied, she should have complied.” But she was not given an order to comply to. She didn’t see that man until he killed her, he was very much hiding. And, you know, Ashli was part of the security forces in the Air Force, well versed in the use of force continuum. And the first one would be to identify yourself — identify yourself as a police officer. Give a verbal command. He did none of those things. The Capitol Police operate with impunity. And I think that in any other police force in this country, Byrd’s conduct would have caused him to be fired, not promoted.
[Editor’s note: The Justice Department refused to pursue criminal charges against Byrd for the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Babbitt as she attempted to pass through the broken window of a barricaded door and the Capitol Police declined to take disciplinary action against him. Byrd claimed to NBC News that pulling the trigger was a “last resort.” He insisted the “failure” of people to “comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.” In August of last year, CQ Roll Call reported that Byrd was poised to be promoted to captain.]
DW: What do you think your daughter would say at this point in time, if she were here?
Witthoeft: Well, she would be very upset at the state of this country as I think many Americans are. My daughter was brave and bold. And the reason I’m here is because I believe she would be here. So that’s my feeling that I believe she would be right here pushing for justice and the reinstatement of people’s Constitutional rights. And the thing about January 6 is, not only did they kill my child, but they took away my belief and some of the things I held true … about this country, like equitable justice and fairness, and, just some things you hold to be true and are not.
Because now, I now believe, without putting on a tinfoil hat, the corruption goes to the top. I absolutely do. And I believe we’re in the beginnings of a police state. When you have cameras watching your every move, when you have people tracking your phone, you have the Patriot Act, you have the 702 [Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act]. Now, they need even less permission to infringe on American rights. I think that that’s a problem.
DW: What do you want to be done now? We’re almost three years to the day? What would you like to see?
Witthoeft: I think, you know, the release of some of the footage is going to be semi-helpful, but it’s also slow rolled and watered down and mediocre.
DW: Is that because they’re blurring the faces or there just isn’t enough of it? [As part of the rolling disclosure by the GOP-led House.]
Witthoeft: They’re just not releasing enough of it, quick enough. And I don’t think anybody’s face should be blurred out. I really don’t. I think if we’re gonna hold people accountable, let’s hold people accountable. And I think that you went in such an unprecedented event where you have so many people charged from the same day for a lot of the same crimes, to have the people that were charged be the ones saying, “Release the video, let’s see it, let’s see it,” which we have been doing for three years, and the government is the entity that doesn’t want it released. I think that should tell us all we need to know, as American citizens, that the government has something to hide. I think that’s pretty, pretty obvious.
DW: Is there anything else you’d like to see?
Witthoeft: I would like to see an investigation into the entire day. I want to know who did what … I think if we’re gonna hold our American people accountable, we need to hold everybody accountable.
DW: By what mechanism do you think that would need to be done? Because you’ve had the January 6 Committee. You’ve had some Republicans do their own counter-investigation.
Witthoeft: Well, that’s a good question and I wish I had those answers. You know, all I know to do is to continue pounding on doors. To continue contacting your local representatives. To show up to vote even if you don’t have full faith in the system, to not sit back and wait for Donald Trump to ride in and save the day because he’s one man. I think American citizens need to be their own heroes, speak up, stand up, say something, run for local offices, and seriously take the pride back in this country that it once used to have.
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The views expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of The Daily Wire.
Listen to the Morning Wire interview with Micki Witthoeft.