Republicans cling to Capitol riot conspiracy theory

WASHINGTON — Republicans who implied a man in the Capitol riots last year didn’t hold back as a federal agent even after a colleague told them they were wrong.

Far-right Republicans such as Senator Ted Cruz (Texas), Representative Matt Gates (Florida) and Representative Marjorie Taylor Green (Georgia) have speculated that a Trump supporter seen on the video that day might be a federal agent or informant. , implying that federal law enforcement deceived Trump supporters into looting the Capitol.

But on Tuesday, the House Special Committee investigating the riots issued a rare statement that the man, Ray Epps of Arizona, had cooperated with the committee and told them he was not an agent or federal informant.

“Mr. Epps informed us that he was not employed by, employed with, or acted at the direction of any law enforcement agency on January 5th or 6th or at any other time, and that he was not an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency,” she said. Committee through a speaker.

Epps’ theory first grew on a website run by a former Trump White House speechwriter, who left the post in 2018 after CNN reported that he attended a 2016 conference with white nationalists.

Rather than backtracking on Wednesday’s Epps story, Greene and Cruz stuck with it. Green, who expressed support for Strange conspiracy theories of the past, simply questioned the commission’s statement, asking if anyone had seen Epps and wondering if the commission’s interview had actually taken place.

“It’s not public,” she said. “They didn’t release him. No text. No video. Not even any evidence of that.”

Committee Chairman Rep. Benny Thompson (D) said last month that the committee had interviewed nearly 300 witnesses. He did not post any texts. The decision to establish the commission requires an investigation into the attack and an eventual issuance of a final report.

Cruz suggested that there was something fishy about the commission taking the time to debunk a conspiracy theory.

“It’s quite odd that the Fake House Committee’s Kangaroo Court devote more energy to defending this person than almost anything else,” Cruz told HuffPost.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Cruz questioned Jill Sanborn, an assistant director at the FBI, about Epps. Sanborn said simply that the FBI does not answer questions about “sources and methods,” an answer that might not surprise anyone familiar with standard FBI practices — someone like Cruz, for example, has a law degree from Harvard and served as an associate deputy. Attorney General in the Ministry of Justice.

It’s still a good question, Cruz said Wednesday, despite anything Epps said to the Jan. 6 committee.

“The reason Ray Epps stands out for so many Americans is because he is so actively and powerfully on video urging people to break the law,” Cruz said. “So much so that the mob around him starts chanting ‘Feed, feed, feed.’ It is an obvious and reasonable question whether he is doing this on behalf of any government agency. Yesterday, Biden’s Department of Justice refused to answer that question.”

In fact, the Department of Justice has not declined to answer the question of whether any of its agents or assets encourage criminal behavior. Sanborn did not say whether the FBI had informants on the Capitol, or whether Eps was an informant. But when Cruz asked whether federal agents or those in federal customer service were encouraging criminal behavior, Sanborn gave a different answer: “Not to my knowledge, sir.”

And despite Cruz’s reference to “Biden’s Department of Justice,” it was actually the Trump administration that was in power last January. There is also a very reasonable explanation as to why Epps was not charged: there is no evidence that he entered the Capitol, and no evidence that he did any of the things outside the Capitol that led to charges being brought against other January 6 participants, such as the assault law. Law enforcement officers or destroy media equipment.

In the chaos immediately following January 6, Epps was added at number 16 in the FBI’s “Search for Information” bulletin. The FBI has not attributed any specific actions to it, as it has done in other cases when it assigns someone an acronym such as AFO (Assault on Federal Officer) or AOM (Assault on Media).

Other individuals – including a minor teenager – were originally placed on the FBI’s website but were later deleted. It would make sense for the FBI to remove Epps’ photo from the FBI website if it no longer “seeks information” about him, but has no plans to charge him.

Cruz and Greene are not members of the Republican leadership in the Senate or the House, but they filled a leadership vacuum on the subject of the rebellion in the Capitol. Senior Republicans stayed out of Washington on the first anniversary of the attack last week. In their stead, Gates and Green held a press conference on Epps; Cruz picked the topic this week.

Other Republicans seem to be fine with their message. Like Green, Representative Jim Banks (R-India), one House member, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tried to name him for the Jan. 6 committee before Pelosi refused the appointment, said the committee could not be trusted.

“I’m not sure why anyone would take the word of this January 6 committee on any matter, let alone this,” Banks told HuffPost.

Gates, Greene, and Cruz suggested that if he was not an informant, Epps would be charged with a crime for what he said on Day 5 and 6. The night before the attack, Epps said Trump supporters needed to “go to the Capitol” and were seen telling the crowd to “go to the Capitol” on January 6.

It’s a questionable claim. Donald Trump himself, just before the attack, told the crowd that they would “walk to the Capitol to make your voices heard peacefully and patriotically,” and later said, “We’re fighting like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you don’t have a country anymore.”

Given the US government’s turbulent history of targeting disadvantaged political groups because of the content of their speech, courts have established a high legal standard for bringing criminal charges against someone based on the allegation that their speech sparked riots.

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Michigan), member of the January 6 House Committee, Tweet Tuesday On how he debunked the Epps conspiracy theory, stating that Epps was not charged because he had not actually entered the Capitol and appeared to have “never broken any laws.”

Green said Kinzinger essentially proclaimed the innocence of everyone in the Capitol that day, including 225 hooligans accused of assaulting or interfering with officers.

“Ray Ebs is being On a videotape telling people to go to the Capitol and organize all these people to do these things,” Greene said. “If Ray Epps is not guilty, how can anyone be guilty?”

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