Jan. 6 Panel Seeks to Debunk Unfounded Theory About F.B.I. Role in Riot

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The House prime committee investigating the onslaught connected the Capitol interviewed Ray Epps, a protester astatine the halfway of a right-wing conspiracy theory.

Ray Epps told the Jan. 6 committee   that helium  was not moving   astatine  the absorption  of the F.B.I. erstwhile   helium  encouraged pro-Trump protesters to participate  the Capitol.
Credit...Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Jan. 11, 2022Updated 8:12 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The House committee examining the Jan. 6 onslaught disclosed connected Tuesday that it had interviewed the antheral astatine the halfway of a right-wing conspiracy mentation astir who provoked the violence, noting that helium had denied reports helium urged protesters into the Capitol astatine the behest of national instrumentality enforcement agencies.

The committee said its investigators spoke successful November with the man, Ray Epps, who was seen connected video urging radical to march into the Capitol. Some Republican members of Congress and different supporters of erstwhile President Donald J. Trump person promoted a mentation that Mr. Epps was moving for the F.B.I. and encouraging the onslaught astatine its direction.

As evidence, they person cited the information that Mr. Epps was astatine 1 constituent listed connected the bureau’s wanted database but was past removed from it without being arrested oregon charged with immoderate wrongdoing.

In a statement, the House committee said Mr. Epps told the sheet helium is not an F.B.I. informant and was not moving astatine the absorption of instrumentality enforcement agencies erstwhile helium encouraged protesters to participate the building.

“The Select Committee is alert of unsupported claims that Ray Epps was an F.B.I. informant based connected the information that helium was connected the F.B.I. wanted database and past was removed from that database without being charged,” Tim Mulvey, a spokesperson for the House committee, said successful the statement. “The Select Committee has interviewed Mr. Epps. Mr. Epps informed america that helium was not employed by, moving with oregon acting astatine the absorption of immoderate instrumentality enforcement bureau connected Jan. 5 oregon 6 oregon astatine immoderate different time, and that helium has ne'er been an informant for the F.B.I. oregon immoderate different instrumentality enforcement agency.”

The Arizona Republic identified Mr. Epps past January arsenic the antheral seen successful viral net videos urging Trump supporters to participate the Capitol. In one, helium said: “I don’t adjacent similar to accidental it due to the fact that I’ll beryllium arrested. I’ll accidental it. We request to spell into the Capitol.”

While it remains unclear wherefore Mr. Epps was encouraging radical to spell into the building, a idiosyncratic cannot beryllium charged with incitement unless his statements contiguous an imminent menace of unlawful action. The widely circulated videos of Mr. Epps talking to the assemblage were taken connected the evening of Jan. 5, hours earlier immoderate unit occurred.

Other videos of Mr. Epps, from Jan. 6, amusement him moving past the barricades extracurricular the Capitol, but determination is nary grounds that helium went into the gathering oregon committed immoderate crimes that time different than entering a restricted portion of the Capitol grounds — an discourtesy that has mostly gone unpunished. One video successful information depicts Mr. Epps seeking to calm tensions betwixt the constabulary and protesters.

Mr. Epps was besides captured speaking extracurricular the Capitol with a Pennsylvania man, Ryan Samsel, conscionable moments earlier Mr. Samsel pushed done a barricade successful 1 of the archetypal acts of unit that day.

It is unclear what Mr. Epps whitethorn person said to Mr. Samsel, who was yet charged with assaulting constabulary officers. Lawyers for Mr. Samsel and others charged with storming the barricade with him person asked the authorities for accusation astir Mr. Epps; different suspect has asked a national justice for support to subpoena grounds from Mr. Epps.

During a proceeding connected Tuesday of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jill Sanborn, the enforcement adjunct manager of the F.B.I.’s National Security Branch, said she was alert of Mr. Epps, but declined to springiness immoderate details astir who helium was oregon what helium whitethorn person been doing astatine the Capitol. News reports bespeak that Mr. Epps is simply a erstwhile person of the Arizona section of the Oath Keepers militia and, according to nationalist records, helium is the proprietor of the Knotty Barn, an lawsuit abstraction successful Queen Creek, Ariz.

Mr. Epps did not instantly respond to attempts to scope him astatine the Knotty Barn.

In caller weeks, immoderate connected the close person questioned wherefore Mr. Epps has not been arrested, and suggested without grounds that helium indispensable person been moving astatine the absorption of national instrumentality enforcement. Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky; Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida; Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and, connected Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas person each pushed assorted forms of those claims.

Mr. Gaetz suggested past week that the onslaught connected the Capitol should beryllium called a “fed-surrection,” alternatively of an “insurrection.” Mr. Trump, successful a statement, encouraged the dispersed of the conspiracy theory.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a subordinate of the committee investigating the attack, mocked the claims connected Twitter connected Tuesday.

Key Figures successful the Jan. 6 Inquiry

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“One much @tedcruz conspiracy down,” he wrote. “Ray Epps has cooperated and is thing but a Jan 6 protestation attendee, successful his ain words. Sorry crazies, it ain’t true.”

The 1 known F.B.I. informant who was successful the assemblage connected Jan. 6 was a subordinate of the far-right nationalist radical the Proud Boys. But the informant was successful the rear of the mob, not up front, and records astir him amusement that helium traveled to Washington astatine his ain volition, not astatine the petition of the F.B.I.

Mr. Epps is 1 of much than 340 witnesses who person met with the committee arsenic it investigates the chaos that left much than 150 constabulary officers injured and several radical dead. On Tuesday, the sheet issued 3 much subpoenas for records and grounds from 3 witnesses progressive successful the readying and preparations for the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the violence.

Two of the men subpoenaed — Andy Surabian and Arthur Schwartz — were advisers to Donald Trump Jr. and communicated with the president’s lad and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, among others successful the “Stop the Steal” movement, regarding the rally astatine the Ellipse earlier the unit broke out.

Daniel Bean, a lawyer for Mr. Surabian, said helium was “bewildered” by the subpoena, adding that Mr. Surabian “had thing astatine each to bash with the events that took spot astatine the Capitol that day, zero engagement successful organizing the rally that preceded it and was disconnected the payroll of the Trump run arsenic of Nov. 15, 2020.”

He said the subpoena was “nothing much than harassment of the committee’s governmental opponents.”

The committee besides issued a subpoena to Ross Worthington, a erstwhile White House official who helped draught the erstwhile president’s code that time successful which Mr. Trump falsely claimed helium had won the predetermination and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight similar hell.”

Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Worthington could not beryllium reached for comment.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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