- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Ray Epps, the Arizona man who several Republican lawmakers say is a federal informant who was present during the Capitol attack, is scheduled to participate in an interview on Friday with the House Jan. 6 committee.

Mr. Epps’ lawyer, John Blischak, said that the meeting is intended to be a formal, transcribed follow-up to his previous interview with the committee, which took place in November and was disclosed last week, Politico reported.

The committee did not respond to a request for comment.

Republican lawmakers speculate that Mr. Epps was a government informant participating in the riot. A man matching his description is seen in a Jan. 5, 2021, video encouraging rally-goers to enter the Capitol on the next day.

In another video from outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, a man identified as Mr. Epps is seen whispering to a rioter immediately before the individual tore down a police barricade.

The FBI without explanation later removed Mr. Epps’ name from its list of people wanted for questioning in connection with the riot.

Mr. Epps was never charged with a crime stemming from his involvement in the riot.

Mr. Blischak said that Mr. Epps called the FBI days after the riot to explain his position. He said his client was removed from the FBI’s list because he had been positively identified. Mr. Blischak said he did not know why the agency waited until July to do so.

Mr. Blischak also highlighted the fact that his client did not enter the Capitol building, which he said was a key factor in why he hasn’t been charged.

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas pressed senior national security officials for details behind Mr. Epps’ involvement with federal law enforcement.

Jill Sanborn, the assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch, declined to answer questions surrounding Mr. Epps or other potential informants present during the attack.

Mr. Cotton asked Matthew Olsen, the assistant attorney general for the National Security Division, why Mr. Epps had not been charged. Mr. Olsen said he did not “have any information” about Mr. Epps.

The House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol chimed in after the hearing to say that Mr. Epps has denied being an FBI informant.

“The Select Committee is aware of unsupported claims that Ray Epps was an FBI informant based on the fact that he was on the FBI Wanted list and then was removed from that list without being charged,” a committee spokesperson wrote on Twitter.

“The Committee has interviewed Epps. Epps informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on Jan 5th or 6th or at any other time, & that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency,” the committee said.

The committee had not previously disclosed that it had interviewed Mr. Epps, despite several Republican lawmakers, for months, raising questions about whether Mr. Epps worked with federal law enforcement officials.

On the anniversary of the attack last week, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, called the attack a “fed-surection.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican, and member of the House committee investigating the attack followed the committee with his explanations Tuesday evening of why Mr. Epps was not an informant and why there was nothing to the fact that charges were dropped.

“He didn’t enter the Capitol on Jan 6 and was removed from the most wanted list because, apparently, he broke no laws. I’m pretty sure the FBI wouldn’t be dumb enough to put their own agent on a wanted list,” he wrote in one of a several-tweet thread aimed at Mr. Cruz.

Mr. Kinzinger also noted that Mr. Epps’ actions neither could have caused a riot of this scale nor would deflect all moral responsibility from the rioters.

“Let’s say Ray was an agent (HE IS NOT), the premise is that one agent can gin up a crowd to insurrection. That isn’t saying much about the intelligence of your voters is it Ted? The rioters had formal education, owned businesses, etc.,” the Illinois lawmaker said.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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