Ray Epps

Who is Ray Epps and Why Has the FBI Ignored Him?

14 January 2022

4.8 MINS

As the U.S. commemorates a year since the January 6 Capitol riot, questions are being asked about Ray Epps, a ringleader who appears to have special immunity from prosecution.

America recently marked the anniversary of the infamous Capitol invasion. As I wrote soon after the event last year,

Wednesday, January 6, was a dark day. The world looked on as disaffected Trump supporters stormed what should have been a fortress — the United States Capitol. Congressional offices were trashed, over 80 arrests were made… Typical of political violence, it was a futile, nihilistic endeavour.

Last week, Congress marked the date with a moment of silence. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made speeches, and an evening candlelight vigil was held on the steps of the Capitol.

An Egregious But Exploited Event

While it is appropriate to memorialise such a symbolic and cynical attack on democracy, January 6 is undoubtedly an event that has been exploited for politically partisan goals.

Democratic lawmakers and activists have used the anniversary to fill their fundraising coffers. Whether they were present or not, Trump Republicans have been tarred as insurrectionists and even domestic terrorists by the national media in the year since.

As the footage reveals, violent and despicable acts were carried out that day. But as the footage also reveals, many who wandered into the building seemed almost unaware that they were trespassing and committing a Federal crime.

As shameful as it was, January 6 was not a fascist insurrection — an attempted overthrow of the U.S. government — as some have sought to spin it. It was a peaceful rally that devolved into a pointless and destructive riot.

Moreover, the blame is not equally shared by everyone who was present that day. There were clear ringleaders. One of them is a man named Ray Epps.

Who is Ray Epps?

According to the footage, Ray Epps was one of the worst offenders in the events that led up to the attack. On the night before the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, Epps can be seen recruiting young protesters on the streets of Washington D.C. “Tomorrow we need to go into the Capitol. Into the Capitol,” he tells them. His recruiting continued the following day, all the way up to the invasion.

Significantly, Ray Epps is the only person who was caught on camera urging people to enter the Capitol building.

Just seconds before the first breach of police barricades, Epps can be seen whispering into the ear of a younger protester, who proceeds to join others in forcibly knocking down the fencing.

A photo of Epps was promptly uploaded to the FBI’s website, where cash rewards were promised to those who could provide information about January 6 suspects. So prominent was Epps’ role that, until his name was known, he was dubbed “Suspect #16” — one of the first 20 high-profile FBI targets among a list that grew to over 500.

Ray Epps Drops Off the Radar

Six months later, on June 30, 2021, several outlets including the New York Times published stories that shone the spotlight on Epps and asked why the FBI hadn’t shown more interest in him. The following day, the FBI mysteriously scrubbed his photo from their website.

Ray Epps

As can be seen on the site, many suspects have been arrested — 700 of them in fact. Over 300 have been charged with serious felonies.

But not Epps. According to public records, Ray Epps has never been arrested and never been charged with a crime. The January 6 Committee, which has been running for six months and has conducted some 300 interviews, has never issued him a subpoena.

As recently as this week, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security told a Senate hearing that he knew nothing about Epps.

Was Ray Epps Working For the FBI?

All of this seems quite odd, given the prominent role that Epps played on January 6. The FBI’s lack of interest in Epps has led many to speculate whether he was in fact a Federal agent or informant.

These suspicions actually trace all the way back to January 5, the day before the Capitol attack. In the first sequence of the first video above, directly after Epps sought to recruit people for the Capitol invasion, a man in the crowd evidently found his behaviour so suspect that he began to chant, “Fed, Fed, Fed.” Others soon joined in the shout.

As bizarre (and even conspiratorial) as this may sound, it is not particularly far fetched.

Last year, BuzzFeed News published an in-depth report on the foiled kidnapping plot of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Over a dozen men were arrested in connection with that plot. But it also came to light that over a dozen secret informants were involved, too. According to BuzzFeed News:

Some of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.

Another left-wing publication, The Intercept, in 2020 published a story entitled A Short History of U.S. Law Enforcement Infiltrating Protests. They conclude that it is a “historical fact” that the FBI and similar agencies frequently infiltrate political movements “using agent provocateurs who urge others to engage in violence,” and even “commit acts of violence themselves”.

Suspicions Raised Further

The suspicions of the American public were raised further this week when Senator Ted Cruz interviewed an FBI official about the agency’s involvement on January 6.

“How many FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of January 6?” Cruz asked. She replied, “I can’t go into the specifics of sources and methods…” When Cruz pressed her for a yes or no response, she was tight-lipped. “Sir, I can’t answer that,” she said.

Cruz went on to ask her if Federal agents committed acts of violence or incited acts of violence at the Capitol. “I can’t answer that,” was her peculiar response to both follow-up questions.

“Who is Ray Epps?” Cruz asked her. While acknowledging that she was aware of him, the agent provided no information about Epps. Cruz then asked more pointedly, “Was Ray Epps a Fed?”

Again the familiar reply: “Sir, I cannot answer that question.”

Why didn’t this FBI official deny that Ray Epps was a Federal agent? More precisely, why didn’t she scoff at such an outrageous line of questioning if it wasn’t true?

The Immunity of Ray Epps

Following the bizarre spectacle, Ray Epps’ attorney, former FBI agent John Blischak, told the Epoch Times, “unequivocally, he is not an FBI informant.”

And Adam Kinzinger, who sits on the January 6 Committee, tweeted a long thread in defence of Ray Epps, insisting that he is not an agent or an informant. “Ray Epps has cooperated with the Jan 6 committee and we thank him,” he wrote.

Why does Ray Epps get thanks, when other suspects — some of whom were guilty of far less than Epps — get one year languishing in a D.C. jail?

None of this makes sense.

On January 6, a rally became a riot. The Capitol invasion was by no means inevitable. The ‘Stop the Steal’ march would have remained peaceful and outdoors were it not for provocateurs like Ray Epps.

Perhaps Epps acted alone and fortuitously escaped federal charges.

But Occam’s razor would suggest otherwise.

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