By Corinne Murdock |
On Friday, Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) turn over all records concerning an Arizona man accused of working as a federal informant: Ray Epps.
In a press release, Gosar said it was suspicious that Epps was never arrested or charged with a crime despite inciting illegal activity. Last January 5 and 6, Epps encouraged and directed protestors to breach the Capitol building.
“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,” stated Gosar. “Then and only then will the American people know what really happened.”
The first to question Epps’ January 6 involvement was Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) last October. Massie asked Attorney General Merrick Garland whether federal agents were present and encouraged protestors to go into the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Further details about Epps’ January 6 involvement were uncovered through investigative reporting by Darren Beattie, Revolver News founder and former White House speechwriter.
Epps appeared on the FBI Capitol Violence Most Wanted List within several days of the January 6 riot. The public and mainstream media identified him quickly. However, the FBI didn’t arrest or charge Epps. Last July, they removed Epps from their list.
A year later, this July, The New York Times featured Epps in an article discussing how accusations of federal informacy ruined his life. Epps said that he and his wife plan to file a defamation lawsuit against those levying accusations of government collusion. Elsewhere, he cited Revolver News and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson as the main sources of many of his problems.
Epps also claimed to the outlet that he avoided arrest because he reached out to the FBI on January 8, the day that the agency included his picture on their Most Wanted list. After less than an hour on the phone, and a March 2021 in-person interview with federal agents, the FBI reportedly cleared Epps of wrongdoing.
In January, the House’s January 6 Committee revealed that they spoke with Epps. According to their account of the private interview, the committee said that Epps denied any involvement as a law enforcement informant or employee.
Epps was the former president of the Oath Keepers Arizona chapter. The Oath Keepers are a militia organization that believes the federal government is controlled by figures attempting to take away American rights. According to archives of the chapter website, Epps served as president from 2011 until at least 2014. Another individual, Gerald Rhoades, served as the chapter’s vice president.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was arrested for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot. Although 10 other Oath Keepers faced charges as well, Epps didn’t.
AZ Free News reached out to Epps for comment, and to ask him about his thoughts on the trials against January 6 participants. He didn’t respond by press time.
Extended Notes on the Timeline:
- January 5-6, 2021: In one video, Epps advanced along the path where his group of fellow protestors pushed back the barricade around the Capitol. In another video, Epps declared that he and other protestors were “holding ground” while inside restricted Capitol grounds.
- January 8, 2021: The FBI includes Epps in their Capitol Violence Most Wanted list, identified as the now-deleted Photograph #16. Epps claimed in a later interview with New York Times that “a family member” notified him that same day that “the FBI issued a be-on-the-lookout alert in his name.” The FBI never identified Epps by name. Epps told the outlet that he called the FBI tip line to turn himself in, and spoke with agents for less than an hour. Epps wasn’t arrested.
- January 11, 2021: The Arizona Republic interviews Epps. At the time, Epps refused to comment on whether he knew he was on the FBI’s list. Epps denied that he wanted people to go “into the Capitol,” as he said in video evidence, but rather “go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they [the protestors] went in.”
- March 2021: Epps reportedly spoke again with federal agents, this time in person. He told them that he tried to calm down protestors, not incite them, as confirmed by a New York Times review of interview transcripts, which weren’t shared.
- January 11, 2022: The House’s January 6 Committee discloses that they spoke with Epps, though they don’t publicize the interview. FBI official Jill Sanborn refuses to give details about Epps to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- March 29, 2022: The DOJ promises to provide a “disclosure” about Epps to several individuals facing charges related to the January 6 riot. An attorney for Epps, John Blischak, told Politico that Epps provided “a full disclosure” to the House January 6 Committee.
- July 13, 2022: New York Times features Epps in “A Trump Backer’s Downfall as the Target of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory,” discussing how allegations of federal conspiracy ruined his life.
- August 30, 2022: Shortly after the Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump posted a debunked claim about Epps’ wife previously working for Dominion Voting Machines on his Truth Social account. Epps’ wife worked for an unaffiliated company, Dominion Enterprises.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to email@example.com.