Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) took to Twitter this weekend to slam deceptive fear-mongering from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who, in a fundraising email, continued to promote the claim that there’s reason to wonder about whether a particular Trump supporter was, in fact, working on behalf of federal law enforcement agencies around the time of the Capitol violence. That Trump supporter — Arizona resident Ray Epps — was caught on camera the night before the Capitol violence encouraging people to enter the Capitol, and he was also in the crowd around the Capitol the next day. Epps was listed among individuals who federal authorities were after, but he was then removed without facing any criminal charges — something that conservatives have used as flimsy support for their theory that he was working for authorities.
"It's completely insane." @Lawrence explains how the January 6th Committee's letter to Ivanka Trump asking for voluntary testimony shows the chaos inside the Trump White House during the Capitol Riot. https://t.co/MLuugYIaH8 pic.twitter.com/u2rfYQyHcW
— The Last Word (@TheLastWord) January 21, 2022
In the Cruz fundraising email, he (or more likely someone writing on his behalf) said that he “led the search for answers on whether there was any federal involvement in January 6,” adding, among other things: “Who is Ray Epps? Was Ray Epps a federal agent or informant?” No legitimate evidence has ever emerged supporting the “Epps was a federal operative” theory. Referring to others who’ve promoted the nonsense, Kinzinger commented as follows alongside an image of Cruz’s email:
‘This is an absolute lie. [Ted Cruz] could care less who he manipulates and what BS he spews. I will never let you forget Teddy. You, Gaetz, Greene, Massie, etc.’
This is an absolute lie. @tedcruz could care less who he manipulates and what BS he spews.
I will never let you forget Teddy. You, Gaetz, Greene, Massie, etc. pic.twitter.com/7Hb4BahTcK
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) January 22, 2022
Epps has been interviewed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, to whom he denied that he was working at the direction of federal authorities. The idea apparently is that federal authorities would’ve been seeking a way to make Trump supporters look bad, but it’s documented Trump supporters who committed heinous crimes like brutally assaulting police, so the theory really doesn’t go very far. Are we supposed to take Trump supporters as essentially mindless animals, committing these crimes only because they were provoked by imaginary feds?
A court filing showed prosecutors had put questions to a Jan. 6 defendant that were “focused on establishing an organized conspiracy involving” Donald Trump and his allies to “disrupt” the work of Congress. The defendant denied any such plot. https://t.co/QJNS0xYKUg
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 19, 2022
As for Epps, The New York Times notes that “a person cannot be charged with incitement unless his statements present an imminent threat of unlawful action,” and the timing of his discussion of entering the Capitol indicates some distance from the unlawful action that ended up occurring. The next day, he crossed the security perimeter that had been set up at the Capitol, but he’s not been alleged to have either entered the building or assaulted police — offenses upon which federal authorities have seemed to focus, alongside similarly serious crimes. FBI official Jill Sanborn did decline to provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with many details about Epps — not that she necessarily had many in the first place, but that just seems in line with the bureau’s general mode of operations.
Top 3 headlines at NYT right now:
— NY Attorney General Outlines Pattern of Possible Fraud at Trump Business
— Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Giuliani
— Prosecutors asked at least one defendant about former President Trump’s role in the Capitol riot, court papers suggest.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) January 19, 2022