Buried in the release of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee transcripts is the interview with Ray Epps, the un-indicted man who was urging supporters of then-President Donald Trump to "go into the Capitol" the day before and the day of the protest.
The unusual interview featured anti-Trump Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tossing Epps softball questions, if not treating him like they were his defense lawyers, according to some conservative critics on Twitter.
It caught Trump's eye, too.
"The Unselect Committee doesn't explain Ray Epps, Sullivan, or the 'other' ringleaders," Trump posted early Saturday morning on Truth Social. "Gee, I wonder why?"
"Sullivan" was a reference to the panel's report omitting the references to Jason Sullivan, who independently urged supporters to protest at the Capitol days before Jan. 6, 2021, according to The New York Times.
Trump's post shared a Truth Social post from Dinesh D'Souza.
"On January 6, 2021 Ray Epps texted his nephew to say, 'I was in the front with a few others. I also orchestrated it,'" D'Souza wrote, adding a link to the full transcript of Epps' interview.
The committee brought in Epps for voluntary testimony after Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, both raised the videos showing Epps urging supporters to "go into the Capitol," which curiously spurred alert Trump supporters to scream back, "No!" and chant "Fed! Fed! Fed!" to call out Epps as a federal law enforcement official attempting to animate the events of Jan. 6 one night before.
In the transcript, Epps answered a text from his nephew Dalin Epps at 2:12 p.m. ET on Jan. 6, 2021, just minutes after the Capitol barricades were knocked over right in front of Epps, who walked away to head back to his hotel, he said.
"I was in front with a few others," Epps texted his nephew, according to the transcript. "I also orchestrated it."
Epps was then brought before the committee to testify about that text and the fact he mentioned "a few others." But soft questioning bore little fruit.
Epps' responses were framed to suggest he had no involvement in the breaching of the Capitol.
"What I meant by 'orchestrate,' I helped people get there," Epps responded.
Earlier in the transcript, Epps had suggested he was there to watch Trump's speech and look after his son Jim, but reality is neither happened and Epps never tried.
Epps broke away from Jim, never attended the speech, and according to video, was nearby urging people to the Capitol and pointing the way.
Epps told the committee he was "proud" to have been there, although he left immediately when the breach of the Capitol had begun. This has led to suspicion that he might have started the lawlessness but left when it reached a dangerous crescendo.
"Yeah, I took credit for it, but I didn't know what I was taking credit for," Epps told an interviewer whose name was redacted in the transcript.
"'Orchestrating' is the wrong word," Epps would say later in the interview, adding his wife scolded him for using that word.
"I think a few people got sucked into the heat of the moment," Epps also texted his nephew, according to the transcript, which could have been cross-examined to vet whether that is complicity for an incitement to an alleged insurrection, as Democrats had attempted to frame Trump for.
Early this year, the House committee rejected claims Epps was a "fed," boasting it brought him in for this interview.
"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 House investigative panel said in a Jan. 11, 2022 statement.
''The Select Committee has interviewed Mr. Epps. 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."
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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