A former Marine whose actions on January 6 lead conspiracy theorists to claim he was an FBI infiltrator said on Sunday that the right-wing rumor ruined his life – forcing him to sell his Arizona home and live in an RV.
Ray Epps, 61, traveled to Washington, D.C. to back Donald Trump in his claims that the results of the 2020 election were fraudulent – but he soon became entwined in the events at the Capitol on January 6.
He was videotaped urging people to go to the Capitol, yet unlike 1,000 others he has never been charged – giving rise to the theory that he was a FBI plant, sent to whip up the riot.
Last month, Epps’s lawyer sent a letter to the Fox News host Tucker Carlson demanding that he publicly retract his ‘false and defamatory statements’ that Epps had worked as a government provocateur.
Epps on Sunday spoke publicly for the first time, telling 60 Minutes the idea of him being a FBI informant was ‘a lie’.
He said: ‘No matter how many times they push this lie, this conspiracy theory, it’ll never become truth.’
Ray Epps on Sunday spoke publicly for the first time about being labelled a FBI infiltrator during the January 6 riot
Video from the Capitol riot was used to claim that Ray Epps (pictured) was working covertly with the FBI to instigate the attack on January 6, 2021
Epps (right) said that he thought he could calm the crowds before the Capitol was stormed
Epps on Sunday revealed that he had been forced to sell his home and business in Arizona, and was now in hiding, living in an RV in the Rocky Mountains.
‘I have a hard time, being a man, being a Marine, being on the run,’ he said.
‘I had to do the necessary things to keep my family safe.’
Epps’s wife, Robyn, added: ‘It’s so sad what people have done to Ray and ourselves.’
On Sunday night, the FBI for the first time confirmed that Epps did not work for them, and never had.
‘Ray Epps has never been an FBI source or an FBI employee,’ the agency told CBS’s 60 Minutes.
Epps was shown the footage of the riot by the 60 Minutes team, and said he found it difficult – adding that he was ‘ashamed’ of having been there.
‘Brings back some bad memories,’ he said, on seeing the clip. ‘It’s hard to see our Capitol under attack.’
Robyn added: ‘Some people have just said let it go, let it die down – but it just doesn’t.’
Epps, pictured with his wife, inside their new mobile home. They were forced to live in it following the constant death threats. They are located near the Rocky Mountains, they told the interviewer
Epps and his wife Robyn are seen on Sunday night sitting for an interview with 60 Minutes
Epps pictured near the front of riots on January 6, 2021
Epps had his life turned upside down after the conspiracies swirled – even though he told the January 6 committee that he went to Washington, D.C. on that trip to bond with his son.
He said that he was a strong Trump supporter, and believed the stories of the election being stolen by Joe Biden.
‘They’re all telling us, before this thing, that it’s stolen,’ he said.
‘There was a sloppy election, and then to top that off you have talking heads saying there are problems with the voting machines.
‘So I wanted to be there – I wanted to see it with my own eyes.’
At a rally on the eve of January 6, Epps, who at 6ft 4 stood out in a crowd, told the group: ‘We have to go in to the Capitol.’
Epps has not been arrested or charged for his actions on January 6, even though he was pictured in the crowd of rioters and caught on video urging people to storm the Capitol
Epps listed a series of tragic events that have plagued him since the conspiracy was started
He sent a text to his nephew shortly after the riot, saying: ‘I orchestrated it.’ The text has been seized on as proof that Epps was deliberately stirring up the confrontation. But he insisted it was a silly boast
He was asked by 60 Minutes why he wanted Trump supporters to go to the Capitol.
‘I said some stupid things,’ he said.
‘My thought process was: we surround the Capitol, we get all the people there. I had some issues with the election.’
Epps insists that he was trying to calm the situation, and stop the crowd from surging past the barricades.
Police body camera footage confirms his account, and Epps never entered the building.
Shortly before the initial barricade was breached, Epps, who was on the front line, is seen whispering in the ear of another rioter – giving rise to the idea that he was instigating the push.
Yet Epps, asked what he said, said it was: ‘”Dude we’re not here for that – the police are not the enemy.” Something like that.’
Epps told the Jan. 6 Committee in a transcript released Thursday that his wife, Robyn Ebbs (pictured) had to move from their home due to concerns for her safety following a flurry of threats
Robyn added: ‘He wasn’t part of the violence. There’s a big difference there.’
Epps nodded, saying: ‘I thought I could stop it.’
Epps left the Capitol in the midst of the chaos, at 2:54pm, to help evacuate a wounded person, and said that on seeing the storming of the Capitol he was ‘ashamed’.
The Capitol had been breached shortly after 2pm, and the building went into lockdown at 2:20pm. At 3pm, the rioters entered the Senate.
‘I looked back at the Capitol and there was people crawling up the Capitol walls,’ he said.
‘And it looked like – it looked terrible.
‘I mean, I was kind of ashamed of what was going on at that point, so I started to walk out.’
Yet he sent a text to his nephew shortly after, saying: ‘I orchestrated it.’
The text has been seized on as proof that Epps was deliberately stirring up the confrontation. But he insisted it was a silly boast.
‘I was boasting to my nephew,’ he said on Sunday night.
Asked what he meant by ‘orchestrating’ it, he explained: ‘I helped people get there. I was escorting people.’
Epps said that he felt he was being singled out to distract from others.
‘There was an effort to make me a scapegoat,’ he said.
The insurrectionists are seen surging into the building, with Mike Pence and others inside
Rioters erected a gallows outside the Capitol and were chanting: ‘Hang Mike Pence’
Pence was ushered to the parking lot beneath the Capitol, but refused to get in his motorcade
‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley, with his bullhorn, is seen on January 6, 2021 inside the Capitol
Epps said that he apportions specific blame to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
The conspiracy theory began when fringe right-wing outlets like Revolver News took selectively edited video of Epps from the attack on the Capitol and used it to claim that he was a covert agent working for the FBI to instigate the riot, and make Trump supporters look bad.
Why did some believe Ray Epps was a FBI infiltrator sent to instigate the riot?
Epps was one of the more recognizable people at the riot – at 6ft 4, he stood out.
On January 5, as the Trump supporters milled around Washington DC on the eve of the rally, Epps spoke to journalists canvassing opinion and said: ‘We have to go in to the Capitol.’
He was highly visible on January 6, and was there when the barricades blocking the way to the Capitol were knocked over – although he himself did not push them down.
He is seen at one point whispering in the ear of someone who then shoves the barricade: conspiracy theorists said that that was Epps giving orders. Epps said he told the man not to attack police.
The speculation about Epps reached a frenzy when, after he spoke to the FBI, his face and name were removed from a Wanted poster.
Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are some of those who have claimed Epps is an FBI plant, sent to spark the riot.
The FBI has finally confirmed that Epps does not work for them, and never has.
The idea was picked up and discussed on Fox News, on both Laura Ingraham and Carlson’s shows.
Carlson has been particularly focused on the idea, and has referenced Epps at least 20 times, 60 Minutes found – with a dozen references so far this year.
‘He’s obsessed with me,’ said Epps.
‘He’s going to any means possible to destroy my life.
‘To shift blame onto somebody else.’
Epps’s lawyer, Michael Teter, has demanded a ‘formal on-air apology for the lies’ that have been ‘spread about Mr Epps’ by others at Fox.
‘The fanciful notions that Mr Carlson advances on his show regarding Mr. Epps’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection are demonstrably (and already proven to be) false,’ Teter wrote in a letter last month to Carlson.
‘And yet Mr Carlson persists with his assault on the truth.’
Letters seeking retractions and apologies are often sent when lawyers are preparing to file a defamation lawsuit.
Tom Joscelyn, a terrorism researcher and author who helped write the January 6 Committee report, said Epps was definitely not an instigator of the riot or mastermind, describing him as ‘a pebble on the ground.’
‘I wouldn’t defend Ray Epps or anybody else who was on the Capitol grounds that day,’ Joscelyn told 60 Minutes.
‘I just defend the facts.
‘So the idea that he’s leading the charge or really orchestrating it is just contradicted by this mountain range of evidence.’
He said he believed the focus on Epps was to distract from Trump himself.
‘That’s what the conspiracy theorists want you to do. They want you to focus on the pebble on the ground that is Ray Epps.
‘They also don’t want you to look at what President Trump was saying and doing.’
Epps said he returned home to Arizona on January 8, and was told by a friend that he was on a FBI Wanted poster, in connection with the riot.
He immediately rang the FBI, and ‘told them who I was and I would cooperate in any way I could.’
He added: ‘I didn’t break any laws.’
Epps sat for questioning two months later, and said he was relieved to speak to them.
‘So, when you met with the FBI, I mean, it was like, finally, we’re going to clear this up.
‘There was no, I take the fifth, there was none of that. It was just like we’re talking right now. I went through everything. They had a lot of questions.’
Epps was removed from the FBI’s Wanted poster, but he said that only served to increase the feverish rumors of him being a FBI plant.
Donald Trump mentioned Epps at one of his rallies, which sparked a surge in death threats arriving at their home, forcing them to sell.
‘It scares me to death,’ said Robyn.
In January 2022, Epps spoke to the January 6 Committee, and a transcript was released on December 28.
He listed the series of distressing events that have plagued him since the conspiracy was started nearly a year ago, and said that at no point was he in contact with law enforcement officials from the FBI the month before the Capitol riot.
Epps said that he was forced to sell his wedding business in Arizona due to the ongoing threats emerging from what he claims are all lies.
He claimed that he used to respect some of the lawmakers and media outlets that he now blames for the conspiracies against him. He now classifies these individuals and those who believe the claims as ‘crazies’.
‘We had a tour bus come by our home and our business with all these whacked out people in it,’ Epps told the panel.
Epps, who said he was getting emotional during the testimony, has 38 grandchildren, and they have been ‘picked on at school’ due to the stories being floated about him.
‘There are good people out there that was in Washington,’ Epps said in defense of those protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election.
‘Those aren’t the people that’s coming by our house.
‘This attracts all the crazies out there,’ he added.
Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, Epps says, is also one of the main individuals at fault for bringing more light to the rumor that he was working for the FBI to instigate the Capitol riot.
‘It really started when Congressman Massie started his deal,’ Epps claimed.
‘He brought that kind of stuff to the floor of the House.
‘When that happened, it just blew up. It got really, really bad.
‘Him and, gosh, [Matt] Gaetz and [Marjorie Taylor] Greene, and yeah, they’re just blowing this thing up,’ he continued in reference to other far-right representatives.
‘So, it got really, really difficult after that. The crazies started coming out of the woodwork.’