On Tuesday, former Marine, former wedding venue operator, and current hermit Ray Epps was indicted for his actions during the Jan. 6 riot. This single charge should lay to rest an elaborate conspiracy theory that originated with online supporters of Donald Trump and spread across right-wing media. It should … if conspiracy theories were affected by facts.
Epps, a 61-year-old former president of the Arizona branch of the Oath Keepers militia and adamant supporter of Trump, flew from Arizona to Washington, D.C., in response to Trump’s call for a ‘wild’ time. Videos of Epps on Jan. 5 show him shouting for Trump supporters to take the Capitol. On Jan. 6, he marched toward Congress, urging others to do the same.
When the FBI created a website where it posted photos of individuals being sought for their involvement in the insurgency, Epps’ face was one of the first to appear. But when Epps’ photo was taken down and no charges immediately followed, claims emerged that Epps was secretly a government agent who had infiltrated Trump supporters to entice them into breaking the law. Those claims spread from QAnon to right-wing media and may have reached a peak when Sen. Ted Cruz and then-host Tucker Carlson parroted the claim on Fox News.
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