On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee rejected a resolution requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to turn over records on federal agents or assets that encouraged protesters to enter the Capitol on January 6.
The original version of the resolution, introduced by Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) last Friday, focused solely on Ray Epps, an Arizona man and former Oath Keeper leader accused of working as a federal informant. During Wednesday’s hearing, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) amended the resolution to focus on federal involvement.
While Republicans urged transparency concerning Epps’ involvement, Democrats claimed ignorance or avoidance of the topic. Aside from Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), who called Epps a “poor schmuck” being demonized by his own party, Democrats focused on expressing disdain for Republican characterizations of the January 6 riot.
Massie urged the committee to pass the resolution, noting that the Biden administration hasn’t been completely transparent about Epps. He declared that the DOJ’s lack of interest in Epps defied logic, especially since the Biden administration prosecuted all other January 6 rioters and launched a formal committee to investigate the riot.
Massie showed multiple video clips of Epps telling protesters on January 5 and 6 to “go into the Capitol.” Massie stated that Epps is the only person on video telling protestors to go into the Capitol, noting that the first breach of the Capitol grounds occurred directly after Epps whispered into one of the trespasser’s ears.
Massie recounted investigative reporters’ details of the FBI’s action or inaction concerning Epps. This included the Revolver News reports (first and second) that the FBI listed Epps initially on their Most Wanted page for January 6 rioters, but later removed him without explanation. This also included Epoch Times reports (first and second) that Epps was the only protestor that had a premonition of the pipe bombs discovered on January 6. Additionally, this included New York Times reporting on Epps’ alleged text messages to his nephew admitting that he helped people breach the Capitol.
“[Epps’ involvement is] easily proven false if they would release this information. If the federal government would tell us, point-blank, no uncertain terms, under oath, not some staffer, not some statement released on some hearsay, not by leaking it to the New York Times, not by trying to soften the blow by putting things out in the press, just come here and tell us,” said Massie.
Massie rejected the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6 (January 6 Committee) assessment of Epps. In January, the committee revealed that Epps told them that he wasn’t working with or for any law enforcement agency on or before January 6. According to Massie, the committee promised to release a transcript of their interview with Epps. They haven’t.
Congressman Dan Bishop (R-NC-09) remarked that there are different standards of justice for Republicans versus Democrats: former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents versus Hillary Clinton’s emails, the months of Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots nationwide in 2020 versus the single afternoon of rioting last January.
“[M]any Americans believe there is a dual standard of justice in the country,” said Bishop. “Nothing reinforces Americans’ sense of a dual standard of justice more than the vehement embrace by Democrats of unequal consequences for like conduct. And it is done all the time.”
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, TheNew 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 Republicinterviews 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, toldPolitico 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.
Today every Republican finds themselves asking a new question: “If I speak out, will the FBI come for me next”? Recently, the LD3 Republican Committee heard a “Resolution to Censure the FBI as the Arm of the Leftist Police State in Maricopa County.” The fear in the room was palpable, for nobody knows any longer where the First Amendment ends and “sedition” begins. Yet nonetheless, one brave man, the songwriter Bruce Arlen, stood up and began to read.
He read a damning condemnation of the weaponization of the DOJ and the perversion of the law. And he read a clear and resounding call for the Legislature and Governor of Arizona, through both words and actions, to provide the citizens of our state with the “double security” against invasion of their liberties for which the federal system was designed. His courage inspired others. The motion carried. Bravery is contagious.
I am also afraid. I have seen the mechanizations of the DOJ and J6 Committee up close and know that this is no idle political witch-hunt but a coordinated and deadly serious effort to decapitate the Republican Party’s leadership and cow ordinary Republicans into silence and inaction. To be sure, some of the rioters on January 6th appear to have broken the law. But most of the “crimes” that Washington’s tyrants are now investigating amount to no more than allegations that political opponents said things that they do not like. The others are mere pretexts to prosecute people for the same reason.
Over the past few months, I have fielded too many questions from the Republican grassroots about whether they can still communicate with party leadership safe from the prying eyes of the FBI. And as a lawyer, I have had too many citizens come to me to ask, “can I say this”? One is too many.
So let me be clear: President Trump has a constitutional and God-given right to say that the 2020 election was stolen. So do you. And President Trump, like all Americans, has a constitutional and God-given right to petition Congress to take action on the basis of that belief or any other. Had Congress acted, those acts would, perhaps, have been proper subjects of judicial review. The rights to expression and petition are not. They are absolute.
Unfortunately, citizens are increasingly aware that if they are unlawfully targeted for their speech, they can no longer rely on the procedural protections of the American justice system as they once might have. The left has long intimidated and harassed attorneys willing to represent conservatives through the traditional Soviet tactics of the midnight phone call and anonymous threat. With the 65 Project, the left has institutionalized this harassment through a coordinated and well-funded effort to “shame” such attorneys, “make them toxic in their communities,” and curtail their ability to practice law by filing bar complaints against them. Attorneys willing to defend conservatives, never many in number, are becoming a rapidly dying breed.
In a few months, I will place my hand on the Bible and swear to defend the constitutions of the United States and the State of Arizona against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Then, despite my fear, duty will no longer permit me the luxury of inaction. I have heard the cries of the people of my district and will make every effort to fulfill my sacred obligation to defend the liberties of the citizens of Arizona.
It is a fact unknown to most that the federal and state criminal codes are so lengthy and complex that almost everyone is a criminal. It is, for example, a federal offense to slice canned peaches incorrectly. When everyone is a felon, prosecutors have unfettered discretion to prosecute their political opponents for perfectly “real” crimes. To protect our rights to freedom of speech and association, I will work to reform the law to ensure that only things that you and I would perceive as morally wrong can be prosecuted.
Ten years ago, Congress caught the FBI teaching agents that they could “bend or suspend the law.” Its academy is notorious for teaching trainees that suspects have “forfeited their right to the truth.” Thus, should the FBI continue down its dark path, I will go further and heed the calls of my PCs to introduce legislation prohibiting the State of Arizona from sharing information with the FBI that might help facilitate their reckless political prosecutions.
I call on liberals of good faith to join in these efforts. The FBI began its metamorphosis under Hoover. I am not blind to the fact that it was one of my favorite Republican presidents, Calvin Coolidge who appointed him. The erosion of our constitutional liberties was furthered by Dick Cheney’s push to expand the power of the secret FISA courts to spy on American citizens. His daughter Liz Cheney now continues his dastardly work by serving on the J6 committee. Today they are coming for Trump and the GOP leadership. But tomorrow the midnight knock could be at the door of my home. Or yours.
Do not let yourself become used to these escalations. Do not let your anger diminish with each new outrageous assault on your rights. Do not allow your liberty to be slowly boiled away like the life of a frog in a pot. The time to stand is while the noose sits but lightly about the neck. The time to fight is now.
Alexander Kolodin is a constitutional attorney and a Representative-Elect to the Arizona House.
The U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 incident announced on Monday that it requested a meeting with Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05). The committee called cooperation “a patriotic duty.” They asked that Biggs meet with them as soon as next Monday.
In a letter, the January 6 Committee informed Biggs of four of an undisclosed number of issues it wished to discuss.
The first issue concerned his participation in meetings to reject the election results, citing one House Freedom Caucus meeting which discussed a plan for former Vice President Mike Pence to refuse certain states’ electoral votes. The second issue concerned claims from Ali Alexander — an organizer of Stop the Steal, a campaign to resist the 2020 election results — that Biggs helped organize the January 6 protest. The third issue concerned Biggs’ communications with former President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that reportedly marked efforts to persuade elected officials in overturning the 2020 election. The fourth issue concerned Biggs’ name appearing among those requesting presidential pardons for involvement in election overturning efforts.
The committee said that it would use Biggs’ cooperation to “make informed legislative recommendations.”
In raising each issue, the committee associated Biggs’ relation to Trump’s attempts to undermine American democracy and the Constitution, as well as Alexander’s calls for violence preceding January 6.
Biggs hasn’t issued a statement on the committee’s letter.
The committee also requested cooperation from Congressmen Mo Brooks (R-AL-05) and Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13). Each congressman received a letter tailored to their involvement in the January 6 rally and Capitol breach.
Brooks’ letter concerned his public remarks on a televised interview with CBS News and a press release in March. He claimed that Trump asked him to rescind the 2020 election results. Brooks said that he refused. The committee wanted to glean from Brooks additional evidence that Trump intended “to restore himself to power through unlawful means,” in a manner adverse to the Constitution.
Jackson’s letter was the lengthiest. It included encrypted text messages from the founder and various members of Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia organization formed to defend the Constitution against perceived violations from government. Those messages asked members that breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to locate and protect Jackson because he had “critical data to protect.”
The committee asked Jackson why those charged with seditious conspiracy were attempting to protect him. Additionally, they asked Jackson to expound on his participation in the rally preceding the Capitol breach and efforts to barricade the House Chamber during the breach.
Like Biggs, neither Brooks or Jackson have issued statements on their committee letters.
A federal judge has been asked to award damages to the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party and her husband for fighting a Congressional subpoena which seeks detailed data from four phone numbers assigned to the couple’s T-Mobile business account, including records of calls to and from their medical patients.
Last week Kelli and Michael Ward filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to block a subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack in Washington DC. The subpoena demands T-Mobile turn over records for the period of Nov. 1, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021 from an account in the name of Mole Medical Services P.C., a company owned by the Wards.
The Feb. 1 lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks a court order declaring the Committee’s actions in issuing the subpoena violated federal law and Arizona law. It also seeks an order quashing the subpoena and enjoining T-Mobile from releasing any data to the Committee.
According to the Feb. 1 lawsuit, T-Mobile’s Legal and Emergency Response Team sent an advisory to Mole Medical Services after receiving the Jan. 19 subpoena. T-Mobile intended to comply with the subpoena on Feb. 4 unless provided proof by Feb. 2 of the filing of a motion for protective order, motion to quash, or other legal process “seeking to block compliance.”
The Committee has not commented on what drew their attention to the Wards or to their phone records, but the subpoena demands detailed records of incoming and outgoing calls—including call duration and associated phone numbers—as well as metadata, or call data records.
The lawsuit and motion to quash argues that U.S. Supreme Court precedent places the burden on the House Select Committee to justify the need for the information being sought. Instead, the subpoena is so broadly written that it substantially infringes on “the right to privacy” guaranteed under Arizona state law, the lawsuit argues.
The Wards were among the 11 Republicans whose names were listed on the 2020 General Election ballot as Arizona’s electors for then-President Donald Trump. Both also signed an “alternate” slate of Arizona electors which they hoped could be used on Jan. 6, 2021 instead of the 11 electors for now-President Joe Biden.
The lawsuit concedes Kelli and Michael Ward use their business account phones for personal calls, including political communications, but argues that the data which would be disclosed by T-Mobile does not relate to a sufficiently important government interest between the Wards and the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol.
In addition, two of the four phone numbers associated with the targeted T-Mobile account are used by the couple’s children, according to the lawsuit. “Congressional investigators cannot possibly have any legitimate investigative interest in invading the personal privacy rights of the Wards’ children,” the filings state.
Several arguments against the subpoena center on the Wards’ work as medical professionals which is provided state and federal privileges of medical privacy and physician-client communications. The Committee has not addressed how it would limit the use or disclosure of confidential patient information that might be revealed if T-Mobile releases the demanded data, the lawsuit argues.
Kelli Ward is a practicing Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine who practices medicine exclusively in the field of medical weight loss. She uses a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant videoconferencing system for telemedicine visits with her patients, although there are times she relies on her Mole Medical phone to speak with patients, the lawsuit states.
Michael Ward is also a practicing Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine who serves as medical director for an air ambulance company. He actively practices emergency medicine in Arizona, mostly in the Lake Havasu City area where the couple live in Mohave County.
“In certain circumstances, Michael Ward gives the Phone Number to patients to follow up on their questions, the status of their condition, and the state of the improvement of their health,” the lawsuit states, adding that the same number serves as a point of contact for Ward’s work for the air ambulance, which involves calls from emergency medical technicians and paramedics about patients.
The lawsuit which also names Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) in his official capacity as the Committee’s chairman calls into question whether the subpoena was properly issued by the Committee due to quorum issues as well as a House rule which requires the Committee’s members to “authorize” a subpoena.
The case has been assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge James F. Metcalf. Each defendant will have 15 days to file a response once served with the Wards’ complaint and summons.