WASHINGTON ― The Republicans who insinuated a person on the Capitol riot final yr was a federal agent will not be backing off even after one in all their very own colleagues instructed them they’re improper.

Far-right Republicans resembling Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rep. Matt Gaetz (Florida) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) have speculated {that a} Trump supporter seen on video that day may have been a federal agent or informant, implying that federal legislation enforcement tricked Trump supporters into ransacking the Capitol.

However on Tuesday, the particular Home committee investigating the riot put out a uncommon assertion that the person, Ray Epps of Arizona, had cooperated with the committee and instructed them that he’s not a federal agent or informant.

“Mr. Epps knowledgeable us that he was not employed by, working with, or appearing on the route of any legislation enforcement company on January fifth or sixth or at some other time, and that he has by no means been an informant for the FBI or some other legislation enforcement company,” the committee stated via a spokesman.

The Epps principle first grew legs on an internet site run by a former Trump White Home speechwriter who left the place in 2018 after CNN reported that he attended a 2016 convention with white nationalists.

As a substitute of backing off the Epps story on Wednesday, Greene and Cruz caught with it. Greene, who has voiced help for outlandish conspiracy theories in the past, merely forged doubt on the committee’s assertion, asking if anybody had even seen Epps and questioning whether or not the committee’s interview really occurred.

“It’s not public,” she stated. “They didn’t launch it. There’s no transcript. There’s no video. There’s not even any proof that occurred.”

The committee’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), stated final month the panel had interviewed practically 300 witnesses; it hasn’t posted any transcripts. The decision establishing the committee requires it to analyze the assault and finally subject a ultimate report.

Cruz urged there was one thing suspicious concerning the committee taking the time to debunk the conspiracy principle.

“It’s completely odd that the kangaroo courtroom of the pretend Home fee is devoting extra vitality to defending this particular person than virtually anything,” Cruz instructed HuffPost.

Throughout a Senate listening to on Tuesday, Cruz had questioned Jill Sanborn, an assistant director on the FBI, about Epps. Sanborn merely stated the FBI doesn’t reply questions on “sources and strategies,” a solution that may in all probability not shock anyone conversant in the FBI’s commonplace practices ― say, somebody like Cruz who has a Harvard College legislation diploma and served as an affiliate deputy lawyer normal within the Justice Division.

Cruz stated Wednesday it was nonetheless a superb query, regardless of no matter Epps instructed the Jan. 6 committee.

“The explanation Ray Epps is salient to so many People is he’s on video actively and aggressively urging individuals to interrupt the legislation,” Cruz stated. “A lot in order that the mob round him begins chanting ‘fed, fed, fed.’ It’s an apparent and affordable query whether or not he was doing so on behalf of any authorities company. Yesterday, the Biden Division of Justice refused to reply that query.”

The truth is, the Justice Division didn’t refuse to reply the query about whether or not any of its brokers or belongings inspired prison conduct. Sanborn wouldn’t say whether or not the FBI had informants on the Capitol, or whether or not Epps was an informant. However when Cruz requested if federal brokers or these in service of federal brokers inspired prison conduct, Sanborn gave a unique reply: “To not my information, sir.”

And regardless of Cruz’s reference to the “Biden Division of Justice,” it was, in truth, the Trump administration that was in energy final January. There’s additionally a really affordable clarification for why Epps hasn’t been charged: There’s no proof he entered the Capitol, and no proof he did any of the issues exterior of the Capitol which have triggered expenses for different Jan. 6 individuals, like assault legislation enforcement officers or destroy media gear.

Within the chaotic speedy aftermath of Jan. 6, Epps was added as No. 16 on a “In search of Data” flyer put out by the FBI. The FBI didn’t attribute any particular actions to him, because it has in different circumstances when it assigns somebody an abbreviation like AFO (assault on a federal officer) or AOM (assault on media).

Different people ― together with an underage teen ― have been initially placed on the FBI’s web site however subsequently eliminated. It might make sense for the FBI to take away Epps’ picture from the FBI web site if it have been not “searching for info” on him, however had no plans to cost him.

Cruz and Greene will not be members of Republican management within the Senate or Home, however they’ve crammed a management vacuum on the subject of the riot on the Capitol. Prime Republicans stayed out of Washington on the primary anniversary of the assault final week. Of their stead, Gaetz and Greene held a press convention about Epps; Cruz picked up the subject this week.

Different Republicans appear to be nice with their message. Like Greene, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), one of many lawmakers Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tried to call to the Jan. 6 committee earlier than Pelosi rejected the appointment, stated the committee can’t be trusted.

“I’m unsure why anybody would take the phrase of this Jan. 6 committee on any matter, not to mention this,” Banks instructed HuffPost.

Gaetz, Inexperienced and Cruz have urged that if he weren’t an informant, Epps can be charged with a criminal offense for what he stated on the fifth and sixth. The evening earlier than the assault, Epps stated that Trump supporters wanted to “go into the Capitol” and was seen telling the gang to “go to the Capitol” on Jan. 6.

It’s a questionable declare. Donald Trump himself, simply earlier than the assault, instructed the gang that they have been going to be “marching over to the Capitol constructing to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” later saying, “We struggle like hell. And for those who don’t struggle like hell, you’re not going to have a rustic anymore.”

Given the troubled historical past of the U.S. authorities concentrating on disfavored political teams due to the content material of their speech, courts have established a excessive authorized bar for bringing prison expenses towards somebody based mostly on the allegation that their speech incited a riot.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Mich.), a member of the Home Jan. 6 committee, tweeted Tuesday about how the Epps conspiracy principle had been debunked, noting that Epps hadn’t been charged as a result of he hadn’t really entered the Capitol and apparently “broke no legal guidelines.”

Greene stated Kinzinger had basically declared the innocence of everybody on the Capitol that day, together with the 225 rioters charged with assaulting or interfering with officers.

“Ray Epps is on video telling individuals to go within the Capitol, organizing all these individuals to do that stuff,” Greene stated. “If Ray Epps will not be responsible, how can anybody be responsible?”


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