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Ray Epps, protester at center of far-right Jan. 6 plot, charged in Capitol riot

Ray Epps, a former Marine and Trump supporter who became the center of a January 6 riot at the Capitol conspiracy theory, was charged in connection with the insurrection, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department.

Epps is charged with disorderly or disruptive conduct on restricted grounds. He is expected to appear in court Wednesday for a plea deal.

In the years following the 2021 riots, Epps was accused of being a government plant on January 6, 2021. Far-right conspiracy theorists believe he was part of a plot to turn the protest into peaceful in a violent attack on the US Capitol.

There is no evidence to suggest the conspiracy theory is accurate. THE FBI in April, responded to repeated inquiries from “60 Minutes” on the matter with a statement saying, “Ray Epps was never a source or employee of the FBI.” »

Pro-Trump protests turn violent over Electoral College certification
Ray Epps, wearing Trump’s red hat, center, gestures toward others as people gather on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot previously characterized claims that Epps was an FBI informant as “non supported“.

Epps first heard about plans for an event in Washington in December 2020, he testified. That month, then-President Donald Trump tweeted about a “big protest” on January 6, 2021, and called on his supporters to “be there, it will be wild!”

Epps, who believed the election was stolen from Trump, went to Washington for what he considered a legitimate political protest, he said. Epps arrived on January 4 and attended a demonstration on January 5, where tensions were high. The event was streamed live online and video captured Epps calling out to the crowd. At 6 feet 4 inches, Epps, wearing a bright red Trump hat, stood out.

“I’m going to publish it, I’m probably going to go to jail for it,” Epps can be heard saying. “Tomorrow we must go to the Capitol! To the Capitol! Peacefully! Peacefully.”

His thought process, he said, was that they would surround the Capitol and protest peacefully. The next day he continued this call.

“We’re going to the Capitol, where our problems are,” he said at the Jan. 6 rally. “It’s in that direction!”

While Trump was still speaking to his supporters, Epps walked toward the Peace Circle outside the Capitol, where protesters first clashed with police. He took an agitated rioter aside and said something. The conspirators call it smoking gun, because seconds later, the first Capitol Police officer fell.

Epps told “60 Minutes” that he tried to calm the rioter.

“‘Dude, that’s not what we’re here for. The police are not the enemy,’ or something like that,” Epps recalled.

Epps was never seen entering the Capitol or committing any act of violence that day. He told “60 Minutes” that he had gone to help evacuate an injured man as rioters broke into the Capitol building.

His nephew texted him, urging him to stay safe, he told “60 Minutes.” That’s when Epps sent what became a controversial text — and ultimately evidence for conspiracy theorists.

“I was up front with a few others,” Epps wrote in the text. “I also orchestrated it.”

Epps admitted to directing people toward the Capitol. He told “60 Minutes” that he was simply “bragging” to his nephew in the text.

The House committee investigating the riot questioned Epps about the text. He said that at the time of his response, he did not know people were breaking into the Capitol.

“I was quite proud that we were all there,” he testified. “I mean, I wasn’t proud of some people, but, for the majority of people there, they were pretty peace-loving people. I mean, they were like me. The atmosphere was good , except for these people who were trying to take it in a different direction.”

Epps returned home on January 8 and learned that the FBI was looking for him. He contacted them and spoke with the FBI two months later at a field office in Phoenix, Arizona.

Four months later, the FBI removed Epps’ photo from wanted posters. The Arizona man thought his troubles were over, but they only intensified as the conspiracy about him spread.

The conspiracy surrounding Epps was first published on Revolver News, a fringe and conservative website. This spread to Fox News, members of Congress and Trump himself.

“It’s not the Proud Boys who are making the initial breach,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, said previously. “That’s Ray Epps at this moment.”

Since Jan. 6, Epps has been the victim of harassment and death threats, he told “60 Minutes.” He and his wife, Robyn Epps, sold their ranch and business.

Epps filed a defamation suit against Fox News in July. The suit, which was filed in Delaware Superior Court, accuses Fox of “creating and disseminating destructive conspiracy theories” and recklessly ignoring the truth.


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