Ray Epps, the former chapter leader of an anti-government militia group who was filmed corralling rioters to the Capitol on Jan. 6 just before the violence erupted, said he intends to sue the public figures who accused him of working with federal authorities that day.
Epps told the New York Times that his life has been “hell” for the past 10 months as prominent members of the media such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and even former President Donald Trump, speculated that he may have agitated people to storm the Capitol at the behest of federal authorities.
The New York Times reported that Epps, the former president of the Arizona chapter of the Oath Keepers anti-government militia group, had “suffered enormously” due to the allegations. Epps told the outlet he and his wife had to sell their business, move out of their Arizona home, and live in a mobile home somewhere in the Rocky Mountains because of the threats he received from people calling him a coward and a traitor.
“I am at the center of this thing, and it’s the biggest farce that’s ever been,” Epps said. “It’s just not right. The American people are being led down a path. I think it should be criminal.”
Epps told the New York Times that he and his wife were searching for a lawyer to file a defamation lawsuit against the public figures who spread false accounts about his involvement on Jan. 6.
“The truth needs to come out,” Epps said.
Epps denied having any involvement with federal authorities on Jan. 6. The Jan. 6 committee said Epps told them in a January interview 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.”
Epps’s actions on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, however, are not in dispute.
He was filmed the evening before the riot urging Trump supporters “go into the Capitol” the next day. Epps told the New York Times that he wanted people to go inside the Capitol as a form of peaceful protest, but he added that he regrets what he said in the footage.
I just played this video for AG Merrick Garland. He refused to comment on how many agents or assets of the federal government were present in the crowd on Jan 5th and 6th and how many entered the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/lvd9n4mMHK
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 21, 2021
On Jan. 6, as Trump spoke to supporters outside the White House, Epps went to work corralling people toward the Capitol. Epps then accompanied the first group of rioters that broke through a police barrier on Capitol grounds.
Epps was filmed whispering into the ear of indicted rioter Ryan Samsel just before Samsel broke down the police barrier. Epps told the New York Times he inserted himself into the conflict because he believed he could stop the violence.
While there is no evidence that Epps ever stepped foot in the Capitol building, he was filmed walking inside restricted Capitol grounds, which is a crime. At one point while on restricted Capitol grounds, Epps was filmed urging rioters to hold their ground.
“We’re holding ground — we’re not trying to get people hurt,” Epps said at the foot of the Capitol building during the riot.
Epps also revealed to the New York Times that he texted his nephew well after the violence broke out, detailing how he helped guide rioters leaving Trump’s speech to the Capitol. Epps said he regrets sending that text.
Despite all this, Epps was not arrested after his actions on Jan. 6.
He was one of the first people to be pictured on the FBI’s Capitol Violence Most Wanted list following Jan. 6, but his picture was removed from the list without explanation six months later.
The Justice Department has not explained why it decided not to charge Epps.
Almost everyone who had been arrested after their participation in the Capitol riot physically entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
However, a woman who was caught on video standing just feet away from Epps moments before the first police barrier was breached on Jan. 6 was arrested and charged in February 2021 with one count of entering a “restricted area” of the Capitol building.
Like Epps, there is no evidence Raechel Genco entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6. It’s not clear why federal authorities pursued charges against Genco but not Epps.
Genco ultimately pleaded guilty on June 22 to a separate crime of engaging in disorderly conduct on the grounds of the Capitol with the intent to disrupt a session of Congress. Genco has not yet been sentenced. She faces up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Epps said to the New York Times that he will never be able to clear his name from the lies propagated by public figures who accused him of working with federal authorities on Jan. 6.
“They’ll always be associated,” Epps said. “You can’t convince some people. There are extremists out there that you’ll never convince them that they’re wrong.”
by Andrew Kerr, Investigative Reporter |
| July 13, 2022 05:01 PM