The decade's most triggering comedy
Ray Epps, a mysterious January 6 figure some theorized to be a federal informant, told his nephew that he “orchestrated” what transpired that day in 2021.
The bombastic assertion was revealed in a lightly redacted transcript released Thursday by the House January 6 Committee. Claiming he made a poor choice of words to his nephew, Epps insisted to congressional investigators his actions had nothing to do with inciting the Capitol riot and, to the contrary, he was trying to stop the onset of violence. Epps, who is seen in video clips encouraging people to march into the Capitol, also flatly denied he was acting on behalf of any government agency while in Washington, D.C.
His nephew, 28-year-old Dalin, texted Epps on the morning of January 6, saying, “You and Jim be safe.” Jim is Epps’ son, who was also in the nation’s capital. Hours later, at 2:12 p.m., as the violence at the Capitol was getting underway, Epps responded with a brag. “I was in the front with a few others. I also orchestrated it,” he said.
Investigators pressed Epps to explain his wording.
“I just meant that I got — you have to understand our relationship, uncle-nephew. We hunt together. We fun with each other [sic]. We do that kind of stuff,” he said. “What I meant by ‘orchestrate,’ I helped get people there.”
Epps also said he “took credit for it, but I didn’t know what I was taking credit for,” and later claimed he used the wrong word. “I won’t know what the right word is, but ‘orchestrating’ — my wife has told me over and over, you shouldn’t say things you don’t — you know, I shouldn’t have used that word,” he said.
As Epps would tell it, what he really was eager for was a “peaceful demonstration” about the election, and he lamented how a party-like gathering was “hijacked” by troublemakers.
Family is a common theme over the course of the interview with the House committee, which took place on January 21 of this year.
Epps, an Arizona man and former Oath Keeper, said he traveled to Washington, D.C., to spend time with his son. He said he was there at the behest of his wife who was concerned about their son’s safety amid reports of unrest in various cities.
Despite this motivation, Epps described multiple occasions in which he was separated from his son and his son’s friend. That includes when Epps left Trump’s rally on the Ellipse near the White House on January 6 — right when the former president started to speak around noon.
Epps said he saw a group departing for the Capitol and decided to follow because he wanted to “be in the front.” Epps said he saw people carrying items such as “sticks or bars” and told them to put them down, warning, “You could get shot.” He also said he wasn’t walking with anybody in particular.
Epps claimed he believed the Capitol was open to the public — on a day when lawmakers were meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory — until he saw the barricades outside the building. Epps said he tried to de-escalate brewing clashes between other demonstrators and law enforcement, and after a while, he left to return to the hotel.
In another text message with his nephew, Epps said, “I think a few got sucked into the heat of the moment,” according to the transcript. Asked to explain what he meant, Epps cited “all kinds of stuff” from the preceding year, including the onset of COVID and businesses shutting down.
“I believe people went there for answers. People wanted to know what’s next. And I believe they were emotionally charged. A lot of people were emotionally charged and could have got sucked in,” Epps said. “So, when these guys tried to hijack it, I think some innocent people, people that meant well, probably were emotionally charged and did some things they normally wouldn’t do.”