Arizona man has entered the center of partisan fight over how to remember the Capitol Hill riot
A participant in the pro-Trump rally that degenerated into the Capitol Breach last year has been identified as a possible Federal Agent Provocateur, but critics are calling the claim a “conspiracy theory.”
How did Ray Epps make the headlines? Epps was among the large crowd of supporters of then President Donald Trump who gathered in Washington, DC ahead of Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. He was filmed in four times on January 5 and 6, which many people on the right find very suspicious. His demeanor at the time and some facts about his life make him a good candidate to be a federal informant and possibly even a key player in an alleged plot to incite violence on Capitol Hill for the benefit of the Democratic Party. according to reviews.
What exactly did he do in January?
According to footage, on January 5, Epps spoke to other members of the planned protest, calling on them to
“go to the Capitol” the next day. “Peacefully,” he pointed out on one occasion, which prompted others to start singing “Feed! Feed!” in response.
On January 6, he was filmed leading protesters to Capitol Hill after Trump’s speech at the rally. He was later filmed outside a police barricade moments before protesters smashed it down. In the video, Epps can be seen saying something to another person who was wearing a red MAGA hat, but who was not involved in the barricade attack.
There is no evidence that he personally entered the building after the breach.
When was it discovered?
At the start of the investigation, the footage was part of a mine of publicly available information about the riot. Epps was identified by the local press in Arizona, his home state, shortly after the dramatic events and questioned about his role.
He told the Arizona Republic newspaper that he had done nothing wrong in Washington and by asking people to go to the Capitol he meant to go. “in the doors like everyone else.” He denounced the actions of his fellow demonstrators. The FBI also identified Epps as a person of interest early on and placed him on Capitol Violence’s most wanted list, asking members of the public to provide information about him. His image was later removed from the web page.
Why do people find Epps suspicious?
Some say he may have been one of the FBI’s informants within the right-wing militias and fled with his incitement because of it. Epps is a 60-year-old former Marine who lives in Queen Creek, Arizona. There is a ranch and an event hall business, according to public records.
In the early 2010s, he was chairman of the state branch of the non-partisan Oath Keepers militia. He is also said to be closely associated with the organization’s founder and national leader, Stewart Rhodes. Neither man has been charged with crimes related to January 6, although other protesters linked to the group have faced some of the most serious allegations among the hundreds of people indicted in connection with the investigation. Capitol riots.
Conservative media outlet Revolver has presented arguably the most detailed case of why they believe Rhodes and Epps are protected from prosecution by the federal government. There are many vocal supporters of the narrative on the Tory camp, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Rep. Thomas Massie, and Senator Ted Cruz, to name a few.
What is the government saying?
In October, Massie questioned Attorney General Merrick Garland about Epps and broader claims that government-linked agitators may have played a role in inciting the January 6 riot. Garland responded that the Justice Department was not commenting on ongoing investigations.
This week, FBI Deputy Executive Director Jill Sanborn told a Senate committee that she was aware of Epps, but would not give any details about him. After the hearing, the Democratic-dominated House committee investigating the riot said on Twitter that Epps had been questioned by members and assured them he was not associated with any body responsible for the riot. law enforcement.
Is there an innocent explanation?
FBI investigators could have removed Epps from their wanted list after deciding that no further information about him was available. His failure to charge may be explained by the lack of evidence of wrongdoing that could secure a conviction.
The majority of those indicted on January 6 were arrested for crimes such as entering a restricted area and disorderly conduct inside the Capitol building, or for various acts of unrest and violence during clashes with the police who followed the offense. There is no direct evidence that Epps was in any way connected with the FBI. Left-wing media ridiculed claims to the contrary as conspiracy theory and “the next big lie” world Trump to deflect the blame for the assault on Congress.
Part of this contemptuous attitude may be due to the fact that Democrats and many media critical of Trump have been heavily invested in treating January 6 as a major attack on the country that nearly ended American democracy. . Marking the anniversary of the event earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris compared it to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.