Over the next few months, multiple baseless conspiracy theories emerged. Many QAnon followers, for example, believe that Babbitt is not actually dead but was in fact a “crisis actor” paid to fake her own death. In the days after the Justice Department announced it was not pressing charges, QAnon followers on Telegram made comments such as “[They’re] not going to charge anybody because she’s really not dead it was a staged episode,” and “Can’t charge [someone] for a crime that didn’t happen.”
But even among those who accept that Babbitt’s death was real, conspiracy theories abound. Online, right-wing posters have variously claimed the police officer who shot her was a member of the security detail for Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The sole “evidence” for these claims seems to be that the officer was in plain clothes rather than a uniform. While members of personal security details typically do wear plain clothes, sometimes Capitol Police officers do too, depending on their assignment, according to the Associated Press. Conservative media and a handful of Republican elected officials — namely Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona — have been steadfast in demanding more information about the shooting, but most avoided entertaining the conspiracy theories that the officer was working for a particular member of Congress.
That started to shift in recent weeks. In mid-June, Fox News host Tucker Carlson played a clip of an NBC News interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Putin asks who “order[ed] the assassination” of Babbitt. Carlson said Putin was asking “fair questions.”