For almost a year Republican lawmakers, led by Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Gaetz of Florida, have tried to force the Biden administration to disclose the role played in the U.S. Capitol riot by an Arizona man named Ray Epps.
Some GOP lawmakers believe Epps was an FBI informant who helped instigate the Jan. 6, 2021, mayhem.
This week, Republicans tried again.
On Sept. 16, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar filed a “request for information,” or ROI, with Attorney General Merrick Garland. He demanded that the Justice Department turn over “copies of all documents, memoranda, advisory legal opinions, notes from meetings, audio recordings, records, correspondences, other communications, or any portion of such communications” that relate to Epps.
“Multiple videos show Ray Epps repeatedly urging crowds of people in Washington, D.C. on January 5 and January 6, 2021, to go to the United States Capitol and breach the building. Epps is the one person seen on video directing people towards the Capitol seconds before violence broke out, yet he has never been arrested or charged with any crime while more than 800 others have and countless more remained jailed,” Gosar said in a statement.
“If the Department of Justice has nothing to hide and is genuinely interested in what happened on January 6, they should release every piece of information relating to Ray Epps’ involvement on that day. Then and only then will the American people know what really happened.”
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In a heated exchange with New York Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones, Gaetz said he supported the ROI as a way to force the government to explain its action on that day.
“We have not gotten straight answers from the federal government about their activities on Jan. 6, and that is what we seek,” said Gaetz. Gaetz noted that Democrats would vote down the ROI. But, he added, “It is important for us to showcase to the American people what they’re getting in a House majority,” referring to the future under a likely Republican majority after November’s elections.
“Accountability is coming. These questions are going to be answered,” Gaetz added.
Massie pointed out that the only existing evidence that the riot was premeditated was a Jan. 5, 2021, video of Epps on Twitter urging people to go into the Capitol the next day. He pointed out that the FBI originally identified Epps as one of its 20 most wanted rioters, yet shortly thereafter scrubbed him from the list without explanation. Justice Department officials, including Garland, have refused to answer straightforward questions from Republicans about whether Epps was “a fed.”
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He added that Democrats have oddly not been curious about Epps’ comments in the video, the FBI’s refusal to answer questions or Epps’ knowledge of pipe bombs left in front of the Republican and Democratic national committees headquarters.
Massie said he found it odd that Democrats were “defending one of the people who assaulted the Capitol.”
In a piece about the hearing, the conservative website RevolverNews.com described Epps as one of “the smoking guns of the entire Fedsurrection hoax that the Democrats have been shoving down the American people’s throats as a pretext to weaponize the national security and law enforcement apparatus against Trump and his supporters.”
“Accordingly, the Democrats and their allies in the FBI and the media would like nothing more than for patriotic Americans to simply forget about Ray Epps.”