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On Tuesday, an FBI agent refused to disclose who Ray Epps is and whether it had agents or informants involved in the Capitol riot of January 6.
Sen. Ted Cruz has called for the agency to reveal their involvement, if any, in the violence last year, and inquires whether a former Marine involved in the incitement of the attacks is an FBI plant.
‘How many FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of January 6th?’ Cruz asked the agent during a Senate hearing. ‘Sir, I’m sure you can appreciate that I can’t go into the specifics of sources and methods –’ the agent said. Cruz then asked her the same question again, interrupting her.
The agent, Jill Sanborn, is the FBI’s Executive Assistant Director of the National Security Branch.
When Cruz asked her the question again, Sanborn replied:
‘I can’t answer that.’
The exchange between Cruz and Sanborn then went:
‘Did any FBI agents or confidential informants commit crimes of violence on January 6?’
‘I can’t answer that.’
‘Did any FBI agents or FBI informants actively encourage and incite crimes of violence on January 6?’
‘I can’t answer that.’
Afterward, Cruz said that President Biden must answer questions regarding the FBI’s supposed role on January 6.
‘Unfortunately, under Joe Biden, we have seen an incredibly partisan Department of Justice. And both the Department of Justice and the FBI have an arrogance that they are not accountable to anyone, that they can stonewall.’
After the hearing, Cruz posted to Twitter that Sanborn’s response was ‘completely unacceptable.’
Cruz then asked the agent, ‘Who is Ray Epps?’
‘I’m aware of the individual, sir, I don’t have the specific background on him.’
At that point, Cruz showed images of Epps from January 5. Epps was caught on video telling Trump supporters that they needed to “into the Capitol,” prompting some in the crowd to yell, ‘Fed!’
A sincere message to journalists out there. Here we have a senior FBI official refusing to tell the U.S. Senate whether or not they actively participated in the events of Jan. 6. This seems worthy of at least honestly exploring, right? https://t.co/xiZgYvPXCV
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 11, 2022
The next day, January 6th, Epps was caught on video saying: ‘OK folks, spread the word. As soon as the president is done speaking, we go to the Capitol, where our problems are.’ He then pointed towards the Capitol Building saying, ‘It’s that direction. Please spread the word.’
The committee investigating the events of January 6 knows of Epps and interviewed him. Epps said he is not associated with the law enforcement community.
‘The Select Committee is aware of unsupported claims that Ray Epps was an FBI informant based on the fact that he was on the FBI Wanted list and then was removed from that list without being charged,’ a spokesperson for the committee told reporters.
‘The Select Committee has interviewed Mr. Epps,’ the spokesperson added. ‘Mr. Epps informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on January 5th or 6th or at any other time and that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.’
One of the two Republicans on the committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an anti-Trumper who voted to impeach the former president, mocked the notion that Epps was an FBI agent on Twitter.
‘He didn’t enter the Capitol on Jan 6, and was removed from the most wanted list because apparently he broke no laws. I’m pretty sure the FBI wouldn’t be dumb enough to put their own agent on a wanted list. Ray Epps has cooperated with the Jan 6 committee and we thank him.’
‘Let’s say Ray was an agent (HE IS NOT), the premise is that one agent can gin up a crowd to insurrection. That isn’t saying much about the intelligence of your voters is it Ted?’ (Speaking of Senator Ted Cruz).
Cruz praised the exchange Tuesday and said officials were avoiding questions on the potential involvement of federal agents. He posted on Twitter: ‘The American people deserve transparency from the DOJ & the FBI about January 6.’
‘For months, I’ve been demanding answers & still to this day, their answers are:- ‘I’m not sure’ – ‘I don’t have the numbers’ – ‘I don’t have any information about that’.’
It should have been very easy for the FBI to tell me, “No federal agents participated in, actively incited, or encouraged others to commit violent crimes.”
But today, the FBI stonewalled and refused to answer. pic.twitter.com/kGlQgjSCUM
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 12, 2022
In another tweet Cruz said: ‘Questions about Ray Epps & his disappearance from the FBI’s public posting is a matter of public accountability for the FBI and the American people deserve real answers.’
As judges move forward with sentencing, Democrats questioned Justice Department and FBI officials about their refusal to label Jan. 6 rioters’ crimes as domestic terrorism.
Reports indicate that prosecutors have not asked any sentencing judge to invoke provisions that could lead to longer sentences for criminal acts committed for political purposes, however, President Biden, Justice Department officials, and the FBI themselves have called the act on that day domestic terrorism.
Democrat Senator Mazie Hirono who represents Hawaii questioned Sanborn and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen.
‘When a mob of armed rioters use force in an attempt to overthrow the United States government, that is domestic terrorism. My understanding is prosecutors have not been pushing for the sentencing enhancements available for acts of domestic terrorism.’
Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut continued the line of questioning:
‘Why has the Department of Justice not used that statute that clearly applies to domestic, as well as international, terrorism?’
Olsen answered, ‘I think it’s entirely appropriate that Jan. 6 events are being investigated as acts of domestic terrorism. … In any particular case, it will depend on the actual facts and circumstances of that particular case. That statute is available in the context of the investigations and prosecutions of the July [sic] 6 defendants.’
Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene noted that Epps was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List but was removed from it after the conservative blog Revolver said he was a ‘Fed-protected provocateur.’
At a press conference held on Thursday, Gaetz and Greene advanced a theory that the government was to blame for the violence on January 6th.
According to them, people who are added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list for breaching the Capitol Building oddly ‘fall off’ the list, in a definite reference to Epps.
Gaetz opened the presser by stating, ‘Congresswoman Greene and I are not here to celebrate January 6. We’re not here to obsess about it, but we’re here to expose the truth, to ask key questions about what happened on January 6, what animated the violence, the extent to which the federal government had been involved.’
‘We know this — January 6 last year wasn’t an insurrection. No one has been charged with insurrection. No one has been charged with treason. But it may very well may have been a fed-surrection.’