OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Editor’s note: Our story originally stated, citing lawmakers, that some federal agents or provocateurs may have been in the crowd on January 6, 2020, including a name reportedly named “Ray Epps.” Prior to the publication of our story, the select committee released a statement refuting claims that Epps was a federal agent or provocateur. We should have included that information in our story and failed to do so. We have incorporated this information into our report and regret the error.
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz predicted this week that a House committee will try to prevent former President Donald Trump from running for the White House again, a tacit admission, if true, that the Democrat-led panel is worried he will win in 2024.
In an interview with Just The News, the Florida Republican said the committee looking into events at the U.S. Capitol in 2020 will make an attempt at “disqualifying” Trump from another presidential run.
“Disqualifying potential candidates is the newest and most dangerous iteration of cancel culture,” Gaetz said on Thursday. “I believe the January 6th committee is going to try to do it regarding Donald Trump.
“I believe some woke activists in North Carolina are trying to do it right now in a very important test case regarding [first-term North Carolina Republican Rep.] Madison Cawthorn,” he continued.
“So far, the well-traveled path of the January 6 committee is to serve up and gaslight opportunity for criminal process to [Attorney General] Merrick Garland,” he added.
The outlet continued:
Gaetz sent a letter Wednesday to the Capitol Police chief with 26 other House Republicans demanding that U.S. Capitol Police preserve all records “regarding investigations or investigative activities the United States Capitol Police have engaged in regarding members of Congress.”
The letter was provoked by reports that Capitol Police officers entered Texas Rep. Troy Nehls’ office in November 2021. According to Gates’ office, the officers “photographed private legislative products” and returned later to “interrogate his staff out-of-uniform.”
If the GOP takes back the House majority, Gatez suggested that GOP leaders “convert” the existing Jan. 6 select committee to focus on investigating “federal involvement” and the “full activities of that day.”
“We can no longer be called conspiracy theorists for suggesting that because, of course, no less than the New York Times has reported that the federal government had agents and assets on the ground on January 6,” Gaetz said.
“And when under oath in front of the country, senators asked senior officials with the FBI whether any of their assets or agents had committed crimes on that day, they would not provide an answer,” he noted.
Gaetz may be referring to a Senate hearing in mid-January, in which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled Jill Sanborn, executive assistant director for the FBI’s national security branch, about concerns expressed by some that federal agents or provocateurs may have been in the crowd that day — one named Ray Epps.
“How many FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of Jan. 6?” Cruz asked.
Sanborn responded that she could not discuss “the specifics of sources and methods” of the FBI.
The Texas Republican went on to broaden his question by asking if any FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the riot.
“Sir, I can’t answer that,” she said.
Cruz then inquired if any agents or confidential informants committed crimes of violence on Jan. 6, and after he received the same answer, he asked if any agents or confidential informants “actively encouraged” crimes of violence on Jan. 6.
“Sir, I can’t answer that.”
The Texas Republican then brought up Epps and showed a video clip of him from the night before urging, “Tomorrow, we need to get into the Capitol! Into the Capitol!”
The crowd responded by shouting, “Fed! Fed! Fed!” at him.
“Miss Sanborn, was Ray Epps a fed?” Cruz asked.
“Sir, I cannot answer that question,” Sanborn replied.
Some Republicans, including House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis of Illinois, have tried to find out if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was aware of security decisions made at the Capitol complex before the riot. But Gaetz says that ought not to be the focus of the committee if Republicans win control of the House in November and take it over.
The January 6th Committee released a statement contradicting theories about Epps.
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.
— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) January 11, 2022
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger also reputed those claims about Epps.
RAY EPPS THREAD:
1) I know this will break some hearts. For a few months, people like Tucker Carlson, MTG, Gaetz, and now Cruz have been “just asking questions” about a man named Ray Epps.
— Adam Kinzinger🇺🇦🇺🇸✌️ (@AdamKinzinger) January 11, 2022
“My perspective is that Republicans should be very cautious about saying the reason Jan. 6th happened was that Democrats weren’t cracking down enough on security, because I believe people are sitting in jail cells right now because they are political pawns to the notion that MAGA is so dangerous that we must use these exquisite counterterrorism tools against a political movement of overwhelmingly peaceful Americans,” he said.