Trump supporter at heart of Jan. 6 conspiracy theory charged with Capitol riot misdemeanor


Left: Ray Epps is seen talking with accused Jan. 6 rioter and Proud Boys member Ryan Samsel near the Peace Circle monument (via FBI court filing). Right: Epps is seen talking to another person in the crowd outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (via police body camera footage/YouTube CBS News screengrab).

The Donald Trump supporter at the center of a right-wing conspiracy theory about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has been charged with a federal crime.

James Ray Epps, of Arizona, was charged Monday with disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor that carries a potential one-year jail sentence.

“On or about January 6, 2021, within the District of Columbia, James Ray Epps, Sr. did knowingly, and with intent to impede and disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business and official functions, engage in disorderly and disruptive conduct in and within such proximity to, a restricted building and grounds — that is, any posted, cordoned-off, and otherwise restricted area within the United States Capitol and its grounds, where the Vice President was and would be temporarily visiting — when and so that such conduct did in fact impede and disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business and official functions, and attempted and conspired to do so,” the single count says. The two-page filing offers no additional details about the underlying conduct that led to the charge.

Court records indicate that Epps will enter his guilty plea on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. before Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg.

Epps was seen in Washington on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 participating in various pro-Trump activities, including attending the so-called “Stop the Steal” rally that proceeded the march on the Capitol building. At one point, he was seen talking with accused Proud Boy member Ryan Samsel, who was part of the charge at the area known as the Peace Circle that resulted in at least one police officer suffering a head injury.

The fact that Epps had not been arrested in connection with the riot — and that he was removed from the FBI’s Most Wanted list after reaching out to federal investigators himself — gave rise to the theory that Epps was a federal “plant” sent to rile up the pro-Trump crowd and lead them into a “false flag” operation. Multiple Jan. 6 defendants have sought to point the finger at Epps as an “agent provocateur,” with no success.

In March, Epps demanded an apology from Fox News and Tucker Carlson, who was then the network’s most popular host and has since been fired. He sued the network in July for defamation.

In an August interview with 60 Minutes, Epps, a former Marine and one-time Trump supporter himself, said that he and his wife currently live in an RV in the Rocky Mountains, largely as a result of being targeted by the conspiracy theories.

Read the information, below.

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