Ray Epps has become the face of a right-wing thriller-esque conspiracy theory—dubbed “The Fedsurrection”— that claims undercover government agents led a mob of angry Trump supporters to storm the Capitol last Jan. 6. But the Jan. 6 Select Committee, which is investigating the riot at the Capitol, says they spoke to Epps, and he’s just some guy from Arizona—and has never worked for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.
“The Select Committee is aware of unsupported claims that Ray Epps was an FBI informant,” they wrote in a statement posted to social media on Tuesday. “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.”
The Epps conspiracy theory reached fever pitch over the last week, when certain GOP lawmakers used the anniversary of the Capitol riot to stoke false narratives about what actually happened on Jan. 6, 2021. The Select Committee’s statement comes hours after Sen. Ted Cruz fanned the flames of this conspiracy during a hearing involving FBI executive assistant director for the national security branch Jill Sanborn. Sanborn said she was aware of Epps, but declined to comment on anything else. Last week, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green and Matt Gaetz trotted out the “Fedsurrection” claim at a press conference on the Jan. 6 anniversary, which focused heavily on Epps. The whole conspiracy started when Epps’ face appeared on the FBI’s list of individuals wanted in connection with the Capitol riot. He also appeared prominently in videos from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 seemingly encouraging other rioters to storm the Capitol.
He was ultimately identified as a resident of Arizona, and a leading member of the local chapter of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia, by local news outlets from his home state. According to the Daily Mail, he runs a wedding venue at a ranch. But in July, his picture vanished from the FBI’s website. His seemingly abrupt removal, and his behaviour documented in videos from Jan.6, prompted wild speculation that he was a federal agent on a mission to somehow tarnish the MAGA movement. This conspiracy was first platformed in October in Revolver, a blog run by a former Trump speechwriter Darren Beattie, with the splashy headline, “Meet Ray Epps: The Fed-Protected Provocateur Who Appears To Have Led The Very First 1/6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.” The narrative that Epps was a federal agent got a major boost when it was picked up by Tucker Carlson, who featured it heavily in his documentary series about Jan. 6.