OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former President Donald Trump held his first rally of the year in Florence, Ariz., Saturday evening, vowing that Republicans would “take back” the White House in 2024 while vowing that a “red wave” would begin in the state leading to GOP congressional majorities following the 2022 midterms.
But at one point during the rally, which was attended by thousands of people, Trump made reference to recent reports regarding a man named Ray Epps, who has been seen in video clips posted to social media encouraging people to storm the U.S. Capitol Building before the Jan. 6, 2020 assault.
Some of those reports have suggested that Epps is a government provocateur, perhaps for the FBI, after first appearing — and then disappearing — from the agency’s ‘wanted’ list in connection with the riot.
“Exactly how many of those present at the Capitol Complex on Jan. 6 were FBI confidential informants, agents, or otherwise working directly or indirectly with an agency of the United States government?” Trump asked in a video clip posted to Twitter by the Columbia Bugle account.
President Trump Demanding Answers About Ray Epps And How Many Federal Informants Were Present At The Capitol On January 6th pic.twitter.com/i4wH7tTf7g
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) January 16, 2022
“People want to hear this. How about the one guy, ‘Go in, go in, get in there, everybody,’ Epps, ‘Get in there, go, go, go…’ Nothing happens to him,” Trump continued. “What happened with him? Nothing happens.
“Did any of these individuals play any role whatsoever in improving or facilitating the events at the Capitol, that’s what we wanna know,” Trump added.
Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled a senior FBI official about Epps as well as whether or not other FBI informants were present at the Capitol riot.
Per Fox News:
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, grilled a senior FBI official on whether or not FBI agents or confidential informants played a role in the Capitol protest on Jan. 6, 2021, but she would not confirm nor deny anything.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “The Domestic Terrorism Threat One Year After January 6,” Cruz asked Jill Sanborn, executive assistant director for the FBI’s national security branch, about suspicions held by some that government officials encouraged lawless behavior during the protest.
“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.”
Cruz then brought up Ray Epps, who was seen on video the day before the riot, telling a crowd, “Tomorrow, we need to get into the Capitol! Into the Capitol!” The crowd responded by shouting, “Fed! Fed! Fed!” at him.
Epps, later claimed that he was not encouraging wrongdoing.
“The only thing that meant is we would go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they went in,” he told the Arizona Republic.
“Miss Sanborn, was Ray Epps a fed?” Cruz asked.
“Sir, I cannot answer that question,” Sanborn replied.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson last week dared the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 to affirm, on the record, that Epps was not working for the government in any capacity.
“He raised the question Tuesday in response to the select panel issuing a statement that said it interviewed Epps, an Arizona resident and a former president of the Arizona Oath Keepers militia group seen on video urging people to march to the U.S. Capitol in the hours leading up to the riot, and Epps claimed he was not an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency,” the Washington Examiner reported.
“Would the committee be willing to broaden that statement and affirm in writing that Ray Epps wasn’t working with any government agency, law enforcement or otherwise? That would be a very simple change to make. Let’s see if they make it. Let’s see if Republicans will force them to make it,” Carlson said.