Ray Epps’ story still does not add up.
On Thursday, The Washington Times reported on the release of Epps’ deposition to the Democrats’ special committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Many conservatives have speculated that Epps, an Arizona resident, was working with the feds to provoke the violence. That’s because he was captured on video the day before the unrest telling pro-Trump supporters they needed to get inside the building as lawmakers certified the 2020 presidential election.
Yet Epps was never arrested or charged in the melee, even though the FBI had identified him as one of the first people it wanted to detain in connection to the riot. The FBI also quickly removed Epps’ photo from its list of most wanted suspects, fueling the idea that he was a government insider or informant.
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In his deposition, Epps insisted that he was not working with the FBI, the Washington police, the CIA, or the National Security Agency.
But as the Times’ report suggested, he can’t really explain his actions or presence at the Capitol.
In his depo, Epps claimed that he was not supposed to go to the Capitol to attend former President Donald Trump’s rally. But he changed his plans at the last-minute to satisfy his wife, who was concerned their son might not be safe at the rally.
Under questioning from committee investigators, Epps denied more than once that he contacted or coordinated or interacted with any law enforcement agency before the protest.
As the Times noted, Epps was recorded on Jan.5 urging protesters to get inside the Capitol. On Jan. 6, he was captured on video whispering to a protester who almost immediately afterward ripped down a police barricade.
Epps told investigators he was only trying to “de-escalate” the situation. As the Times reported, Epps said he sought to “calm tensions among rallygoers” because “a group of agitators were attempting to incite violence with the police.”
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But Epps was encouraging people to get inside the Capitol even if it meant they could be arrested.
Epps told the committee he thought the Capitol would be open that day. To his credit, left-wing Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff asked Epps why he thought he or someone else would be arrested if the facility was open to the public.
“I don’t know,” Epps replied. “It was the heat of the moment thing. I was trying to find some common ground with these people and change their minds. It shouldn’t have been said, but I said it.”
Epps also insisted that while he was on the Capitol grounds during the riot, he sought to encourage the mob to retreat from police barricades.
“The Capitol is the people’s house and the rotunda — people can go into the rotunda and — and see what’s happening there. My vision was, get as many people in there as we can and surround it, be there, let them know that we’re not happy with the — with what — what has happened, and that was it,” he said. “No violence. I never intended to break the law. It’s not in my DNA. I’ve never — I’m sure you’ve looked up my record. I don’t break the law.”
Yet the committee had text messages from Epps to his nephew saying he had “orchestrated” the riot.
“What I meant by ‘orchestrate,’ I helped get people there,” Epps explained. “At that point, I didn’t know that they were breaking into the Capitol. I didn’t know windows had been broken. I didn’t know anybody was in the Capitol.”
For their part, federal officials have neither confirmed nor denied that Epps was involved as an informant or provocateur.