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Why Did DOJ--and Ray Epps--Lie About Ray Epps?
In charging Epps with a sole misdemeanor, the DOJ misrepresented his time on Capitol grounds and downplayed his conduct on January 6. Epps did the same before the January 6 Committee. Why?
After an inexplicable delay animated by secrecy, speculation, and claims of victimhood, the Department of Justice on September 19 charged Ray Epps, arguably the most infamous “insurrectionist,” for his role in the events of January 6.
Epps, despite engaging in behavior that has resulted in serious charges against dozens of Capitol protesters, faces only one misdemeanor: disorderly conduct on restricted grounds. He pleaded guilty the following day.
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Corporate media types gloated over the news, insisting the slap-on-the-wrist conclusively debunked “right-wing conspiracy theories” that Epps was some sort of government asset. Epps continues to earn sympathetic coverage from the same reporters and J6 headhunters online and in Congress who brand every January 6 protester a domestic terrorist or seditionist.
DOJ undoubtedly hopes this so-called “conspiracy theory” will fade from the headlines and Congressional scrutiny. But “conspiracy theories”—the reflexive description of independent thought existing outside the regime-approved echo chamber—are fueled by distrust of the sources, inconsistent accounts, and unanswered questions. To that end, the government did nothing here to end rumors about Epps’ involvement in the events of January 6; to the contrary, the DOJ created even more raised eyebrows after misrepresenting his movements at the Capitol that afternoon,
To put it bluntly, the DOJ lied.
And someone needs to explain why.
Epps remained on Capitol grounds at least 40 minutes longer than DOJ claimed.
In a 14-page statement of offense signed by Epps on September 10, assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gordon detailed Epps’ behavior on the evening of January 5 and part of the day on January 6. Gordon acknowledged Epps’ presence at a rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza the night before the Capitol protest where Epps encouraged people to go “in to the Capitol” the following day.
Epps’ involvement in the first breach of an exterior barrier—including his whispering in the ear of Ryan Samsel, one of the first individuals to knock down metal racks at Peace Circle on January 6—was covered as well.
DOJ gave short shrift to Epps’ presence at the second breach point moment later; Epps touched then appeared to help protesters hold down part of a fence, which created an opening for people to get closer to the building right as the joint session of Congress convened at 1 pm. (Recall how a federal judge recently designated the unauthorized touching of a temporary fence an act of terrorism.)
When a massive Trump banner framed in metal carried by several individuals arrived on the west side of the building around 1:40 pm, Epps briefly handled the sign and pointed toward a line of police—an act in the same vein as other January 6 defendants ultimately charged with aiding or abetting assault of an officer. “The sign’s size and impact broke and scattered the police line,” Gordon wrote. “While officers were occupied with the sign, a group of rioters, including Epps, pushed forward, leaning their bodies on each other.”
But here is where Gordon’s account of what happened next contradicts surveillance video captured from several cameras on the Capitol’s west side. “Epps remained on restricted grounds for a little over a half hour longer,” after the sign incident.
If by a “little,” Gordon meant nearly 40 minutes more, then he is correct. Otherwise, Gordon intentionally falsified the amount of time Epps remained on restricted grounds.
Surveillance footage shows Epps was at the front of the escalating protest until nearly 3:00 pm, not 2:15 pm as Gordon suggested. During the period Gordon did not cover in his report, Epps participated in additional misconduct including interfering with police and joining the mob as it advanced toward an interior entrance point.
Here is Epps walking up and down the police line shortly after he and others were sprayed with tear gas by police:
Mostly due to “friendly fire”—police were being hit with chemical gas deployed by their fellow officers—the line on the west side fell around 2:30pm. Rather than retreat, Epps made his way closer to the building. Hundreds of protesters soon entered an open door on the upper terrace. (There is no evidence Epps went inside the Capitol.) He is sprayed again with gas but does not leave the premises.
Here is Epps more than an hour after the sign incident and at least 30 minutes past the time DOJ stated Epps left the area. He appeared to be helping someone hurt in the melee:
Epps: “I also orchestrated it.”
So, why did Gordon claim Epps left at least a half hour before he actually did? It appears the DOJ attempted to substantiate Epps’ false testimony to the January 6 Select Committee last year.
Epps told committee members that “at 2:12 pm, I was on my way back to the hotel room.”
The 2:12 pm mark is crucial; according to his phone records, Epps sent this text to his nephew: “I was in the front with a few others. I also orchestrated it.” When pressed by the January 6 Select Committee to explain what he meant by the text, Epps insisted it was just normal banter between family.
He twice more testified that he was off Capitol grounds when the text was sent at 2:12 pm. But he wasn’t on his way back to the hotel or exiting the premises. At 2:12, Epps is seen on video, refusing to leave even after police dispensed tear gas on the increasingly agitated crowd:
The 2:12 pm mark is important for another reason; it is the exact time when individuals smashed a window at another area of the building, allowing access to the inside. The Senate and the House recessed a few minutes later.
The government clearly wanted to place Epps away from the scene prior to Congress being evacuated—otherwise, declining to charge him for obstruction of an official proceeding, a common felony slapped against more than 300 Capitol protesters including some who did not enter the building, makes no sense.
But, of course, nothing related to the Epps case does.
And if “conspiracy theories” persist despite a single low-level charge for nearly two hours of behavior that have put others behind bars, the DOJ, Epps, and the news media only have themselves to blame.