The Department of Justice on Monday filed one misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct against Ray Epps, an Arizona man captured on video encouraging protesters to go into the Capitol the night before the Jan. 6, 2021, incursion.
Epps was also allegedly seen on video on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 itself, speaking to protesters right before they broke down barricades.
Many responded on social media, arguing the misdemeanor count — rather than more serious charges like those filed against other Jan. 6 defendants — was evidence that Epps was in fact somehow working with the federal government during the protest. Epps and the FBI denied this was the case to CBS News in April.
American Greatness reporter Julie Kelly, who has extensively covered the January 6 defendants’ trials, published a post on X, formerly Twitter, in response to the charge, which was contained in a criminal “information” filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“This lame single charge tells us everything we need to know about Ray Epps. No obstruction felony? No civil disorder charge? Not even a trespassing on restricted grounds misdemeanor?” she wrote.
“Can’t even tell you the last time I saw an ‘information’ (misdemeanor version of indictment) for a J6er on a sole count. Not sure it exists but will check.”
This lame single charge tells us everything we need to know about Ray Epps.
No obstruction felony? No civil disorder charge? Not even a trespassing on restricted grounds misdemeanor?
Can’t even tell you the last time I saw an “information” (misdemeanor version of indictment)… pic.twitter.com/zQ0rGT23ES
— Julie Kelly 🇺🇸 (@julie_kelly2) September 19, 2023
Turning Point USA leader Charlie Kirk posted, “Not suspicious at all! Nearly 3 years after J6, Ray Epps is finally charged … with ‘disorderly conduct.’
“That’s right. The man who yelled for people to storm the Capitol, who was video taped multiple times actually trying to incite a riot, somehow avoids seditious conspiracy with no terrorism enhancement while people who never entered the Capitol are rotting away in a DC jail”
“Everything is on the level folks.”
Not suspicious at all!
Nearly 3 years after J6, Ray Epps is finally charged … with “disorderly conduct.”
That’s right. The man who yelled for people to storm the Capitol, who was video taped mulitple times actually trying to incite a riot, somehow avoids seditious conspiracy… pic.twitter.com/gxGHcbiuOq
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) September 19, 2023
Another responded, “All of those who are serving hard time for J6 should be outraged at this. Ray Epps is on video directing people during J6. Banana Republic.”
Conservative commentator Darren Beattie posted, “Charging Ray Epps now for ‘disorderly conduct’ is not going to make the Feds’ credibility problem go away It’s too late for them. This is just making them look desperate.”
Charging Ray Epps now for “disorderly conduct” is not going to make the Feds’ credibility problem go away
It’s too late for them. This is just making them look desperatehttps://t.co/6m5lGW7r4K
— Darren J. Beattie 🌐 (@DarrenJBeattie) September 19, 2023
NBC News reported that Epps’ alleged conduct on Jan. 6 and the night before “sparked conspiracy theories that he was a federal informant.”
“The unsupported notion that Epps was some sort of government agent who was inciting the mob to storm the Capitol has become widely accepted in right-wing circles, and even members of Congress have raised the Epps case during congressional hearings,” the news outlet added.
In January 2022, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz pressed then-FBI Assistant Executive Director Jill Sanborn on whether Epps had been working with the bureau during the Capitol incursion.
“Did any FBI agents or FBI informants actively encourage and incite crimes of violence on Jan. 6?” Cruz asked.
“Sir, I can’t answer that,” Sanborn said.
“Ms. Sanborn, who is Ray Epps?” the senator then asked.
“I’m aware of the individual, sir. I don’t have the specific background to him,” Sanborn answered.
Senator @tedcruz Going Over The Footage Of Ray Epps On January 5th and 6th
Senator Cruz: “Ms. Sanborn, was Ray Epps a FED?”
Jill Sanborn: “Sir, I cannot answer that question.” pic.twitter.com/yKJSHUr1eL
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) January 11, 2022
Cruz recounted that Epps was captured on video among a crowd in Washington, D.C., the night of Jan. 5, 2021, yelling, “Tomorrow, we need to get into the Capitol! Into the Capitol!”
It was such strange behavior, the senator observed. People yelled back, “No!”
They then started chanting, “Fed, Fed, Fed!”
GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky posted a video of it in October 2021 and tweeted, “I just played this video for AG Merrick Garland [during a House hearing]. He refused to comment on how many agents or assets of the federal government were present in the crowd on Jan 5th and 6th and how many entered the Capitol.”
I just played this video for AG Merrick Garland. He refused to comment on how many agents or assets of the federal government were present in the crowd on Jan 5th and 6th and how many entered the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/lvd9n4mMHK
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 21, 2021
So the attorney general himself would not answer the question either.
During his continued questioning of Sanborn, Cruz asked directly, “Was Ray Epps a fed?”
“Sir, I cannot answer that question,” Sanborn responded.
Cruz next showed photographs allegedly showing Epps whispering to some protesters, who then proceeded to tear down a barricade around the Capitol.
When Ray Epps whispered in the man’s ear, it didn’t take long for him to “breach” the barricade… wonder what Ray said?🤔🤔 “Nice weather we’re having?” “What time is it?” “Let’s go home?” pic.twitter.com/C6nD1ai5vX
— Jim Benson (MAGA World Leader) (@jmbenson1491) September 24, 2022
“Did Mr. Epps urge them to tear down the barricades?” he asked.
Once again, Sanborn said she could not answer the question.
Finally, Cruz pointed out that Epps was originally among those pictured on an FBI wanted notice in the days immediately after the incursion.
As everyone awaits 60 Minute sob story on Ray Epps, a reminder his photo is STILL in a perp poster pinned to FBI DC field office account.
The man Epps is speaking to—Ryan Samsel—had been in custody for 6 months when this collage was posted. So they weren’t looking for him 🤷🏼♀️ pic.twitter.com/PKGmyteAbj
— Julie Kelly 🇺🇸 (@julie_kelly2) April 23, 2023
In fact a cash reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of Epps, the senator said.
However, “magically,” by July, Epps had disappeared from the public posting, Cruz noted.
CBS News reported in April that Epps was removed from the wanted list after the FBI questioned him, which does raise questions why the DOJ decided to charge him on Monday.
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