This individual piqued my curiosity on the day of the Capitol Riot. When he was identified and interviewed after the insurrection, I eagerly awaited his arrest. The evidence I was sitting on seemed to indicate that this individual was a leader of some organized plot to overrun the Capitol. What has come out in the news this week, which is full tilt right-wing conspiracy theory spin, has me re-thinking my assumptions...
FACT: The night before the Capitol Riot, Ray Epps told Trump supporters on the streets of Washington, D.C. “We need to go IN to the Capitol.”
FACT: Moments before barriers were initially breached, Ray Epps whispered into the ear of Ryan Samsel just seconds before his assault of a Capitol Police Officer:
FACT: After the insurrection the FBI assigned James Ray Epps the number AFO#16 and the Sedition Hunters labeled him #Fedboomer. Sometime in the months since, the FBI removed photo #16 from their website...
FACT: Five days after the Insurrection, Ray Epps gave an interview to AZ Central:
Ray Epps told The Arizona Republic in a brief telephone interview Monday that he had traveled to the capital for the event, and that he had been advised by an attorney not to speak about it.
Asked about it, he first told The Republic he would need to see the video. When read a transcript of the comments, he said, "The only thing that meant is we would go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they went in."
Epps said he is a law-abiding citizen. He declined to comment when asked if he is pictured on the FBI's page.
Epps is described as the owner of Rocking R Farms in Queen Creek and the Knotty Barn, a wedding and event venue in the East Valley, on a website for those venues.
FACT: There has been speculation online that Mr. Epps might be an undercover Fed:
The identity of Ray Epps was known a few days after January 6, but he was never charged or prosecuted and remains a so called "unindicted co-conspirator".
The crowd of Trump supporters then broke out into chants of "FED! FED! FED!"
He even was recorded next to known antifa member John Sullivan who infiltrated the crowd of Trump supporters and was paid by CNN for his footage of the events.
Is Ray Epps an undercover fed?
FACT: On October 21st Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him directly if Mr. Epps was a federal agent-provocateur:
FACT: Attorney General Merrick Garland declined to answer that question:
Real Clear Politics
GOP Rep. Thomas Massie played several videos of a man who was inciting violence at the January 6 Capitol riot but has not been charged, asking Attorney General Merrick Garland at a hearing Thursday if he was a federal agent-provocateur:
REP. THOMAS MASSIE: As far as we can determine, the individual who was saying he'll probably go to jail, he'll probably be arrested, but they need to go into the Capitol the next day, is then the next day directing people to the Capitol, and as far as we can find, this individual has not been charged with anything.
You said this was one of the most sweeping investigations in history. Have you seen that video or those frames from that video?
ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND: So, as I've said at the outset, one of the norms of the Justice Department is to not comment on impending ongoing investigations and not comment about particular scenes or particular individuals.
So far the story seems rather devastating to Mr. Epps and a bit stinging to the government, but there may be another explanation… Pay close attention to this video:
Did you catch it? AZ Central did...
The video Massie showed on Thursday shows Epps a day before the riot. He is wearing khakis and a red Trump hat and tells the interviewer, "I'm going to put it out there. I'm probably going to go to jail for it, OK. Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol. Into the Capitol."
As people in the crowd start yelling, he adds, "Peacefully."
The crowd starts chanting, "Fed, fed, fed."
The night before the insurrection James Ray Epps was imploring Trump’s supporters to stay within the law… Suppose what he advised Ryan Samsel was something similar?
A real agent provocateur would have never used his real name. A real Fed plant would have used a fake name and a made up backstory. If Ray Epps had been an undercover agent for the FBI they would have never given him a number or put his face on their website in the first place.
This is purely speculation on my part, but I think it’s a more logical explanation for the evidence at hand and the Department of Justice’s response to it. Which do you think is more likely: that Ray Epps is a federal agent provocateur, or that he was questioned and released by the FBI for lack of evidence?