Ray Epps is an Arizona man who told the January 6 Committee that he has been falsely accused of being an FBI informant during the Capitol riots on January 6, 2022.
In January 2022, in the wake of the January 6 anniversary, Epps’ name was raised by two Republican senators, Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, who questioned government officials about whether FBI agents or their confidential informants incited or were part of the pro-Trump rioters on January 6, according to CNN. Epps’ name has circulated for days on social media, including on the Twitter pages of sitting members of Congress.
Epps spoke to the New York Times in July 2022. “All of this, it’s just been hell,” he told the newspaper.
According to Mother Jones, Epps is referred to on social media as #FedBoomer or #BigMagaCamo by such conspiracy theorists. “Epps, these people claim, was a decisive figure in planning, inciting, and directing Trump supporters to storm the Capitol on January 6,” Mother Jones reported, calling the claims “spurious” and lacking “hard evidence.” Epps is but the latest conspiracy theory by those fueling speculation that a false-flag operation occurred on January 6.
GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted, “One more @tedcruz conspiracy down. Ray Epps has cooperated and is nothing but a Jan 6 protest attendee, in his own words. Sorry crazies, it ain’t true.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Epps Denies Working With Any Law Enforcement Agency & Says He’s Not an FBI Informant, the Select Committee Revealed
According to CNN, Epps is an Arizona man who “some right-wing figures baselessly claim was part of secret FBI plot to orchestrate the January 6 insurrection.”
However, The Select Committee pushed back on claims Epps worked for the FBI in a statement posted to Twitter.
“The Select Committee is aware of unsupported claims that Ray Epps was an FBI informant based on the fact that he was on the FBI Wanted list and then was removed from that list without being charged,” the January 6th Committee tweeted on January 11, 2022.
“The Committee has interviewed Epps. Epps informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on Jan 5th or 6th or at any other time, & that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.”
According to CNN, the conspiracy theories around Epps derive from “several videos of Epps encouraging people to attack the Capitol,” and the fact his photo appeared on an FBI “most wanted” list but was later removed. Others have offered a plausible reason his name was removed that does not involve being an FBI informant.
Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly wrote on Twitter:
There is no public evidence that Ray Epps:
— Entered the interior of the U.S. Capitol building.
— Assaulted law enforcement outside.
Like thousands of others, he was unlawfully present on the restricted grounds of the Capitol.
But DOJ cannot possibly charge all of those cases.
2. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz Asked an FBI Official Whether Informants or Agents Were Involved in January 6 & Brought Up Epps’ Name, But Received No Response
According to Fox News, Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, appearing at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “The Domestic Terrorism Threat One Year After January 6,” asked FBI official Jill Sanborn whether the FBI’s agents of confidential informants were involved in infiltrating or inciting the January 6 riots or protest.
“How many FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of Jan. 6?” Cruz asked, according to Fox.
Sanborn responded that she could not discuss “the specifics of sources and methods” of the FBI.
Cruz asked, according to video of the questioning, “Did any FBI agents or confidential informants actively participate in the events of January 6th? Yes or no?”
Sanborn responded, “Sir, I can’t answer that.”
She also refused to answer his questions about whether FBI agents or confidential agents committed crimes of violence on January 6 or actively encouraged and incident crimes of violence on January 6.
Cruz brought up Epps’ name, according to The Washington Post.
“Who is Ray Epps?” Cruz asked, according to video of his appearance.
“I am aware of the individual,” Sanborn replied. “I don’t have the specific background of him.”
“There are a lot of people who are understandably very concerned about Mr. Epps,” Cruz replied, according to The Post.
“Ms. Sanborn,” he continued, “was Ray Epps a fed?”
Sanborn did not answer the question. According to The Post, it’s FBI policy not to confirm or deny whether anyone is a confidential informant.
“Mr. Epps has not been charged with anything,” Cruz said, according to The Post. “No one’s explained why a person videoed urging people to go to the Capitol, a person whose conduct was so suspect the crowd believed he was a fed, would magically disappear from the list of the people the FBI was looking at.”
3. Daily Mail Published a Video It Says Shows Epps Telling People, ‘We Need to Go Into the Capitol’ & Says He Runs Rural Weddings in Arizona, Where the Publication Tracked Him Down
Daily Mail has published this video it says shows Epps.
“Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol!” a man Daily Mail says was Epps says in the video.
“Video: EXCLUSIVE: Pictured on his tranquil Arizona ranch and wedding venue, the ex-Marine accused of being an ‘FBI plant sent to help incite January 6 Capitol riot’ refuses to answer to right-wing conspiracy theory,” the British tabloid wrote.
“Ray Epps caught on camera instructing people to go into the capitol on January 5th.”
Cruz said people in one video accused Epps of being a “fed,” the Post reported.
Daily Mail tracked Epps down in Arizona and presented some biographical information for him, reporting that he is 60 and “a genial host of rural weddings.”
Daily Mail described him as a former Marine who runs “Rocking R Farms wedding and hospitality business,” with his wife, Robyn. Epps told Daily Mail, when asked for comment about all of this, “Get off my property.”
4. Sitting Members of Congress Have Tweeted Epps’ Name
“Why is Ray Epps free?” tweeted Troy Nehls, sharing the above video.
Rep. Thomas Massle shared the same video, writing, “How many January 6th protesters were actually working for the federal government? In October, I asked AG Garland while he was under oath and he refused to answer. He looked very nervous and worried when I showed him this video in that hearing.”
On the January 6 anniversary, Rep. Madison Cawthorn tweeted, “Who is Ray Epps?”
5. There’s Evidence Epps Is an Oath Keeper, Reports Say
Mother Jones accused Epps of being an Oath Keeper, not an FBI agent.
An event calendar for a talk by Oath Keepers’ founder Stewart Rhodes described Epps as “Oath Keepers Arizona Chapter…State Chapter President: Ray Epps.”
Daily Mail reported that Epps is “the former president of the largest chapter of far-right anti-government militia group the Oath Keepers.”
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