To millions of consumers of conservative news… Ray Epps is a notorious villain… an instigator responsible for turning on peaceful protests. 6th January In a violent attack on the US Capitol. Ironically, Epps was an avid supporter of President Trump who traveled to Washington to protest the 2020 election. But his often contradictory behavior that day sparked a full-blown conspiracy theory, casting him as a government agent who incited a rebellion. Today, Epps is in hiding, after death threats forced him to sell his home. So who is Ray Epps? Tonight, you will hear from the government, and the people themselves.
Ray Epps: We’re going to the Capitol as President Trump finishes speaking. This is the direction.
At 6-foot-4, in his desert camouflage, bright red Trump hat and military-style backpack, Ray Epps stood out from the crowd on Jan. 6.
He is the one rushing toward the US Capitol with the vanguard of rioters who first attacked and drove off the police.
Bill Whittaker: What do you think of it now?
Ray Epps: Brings back some bad memories. It is hard to see our Capitol under attack.
It’s been more than two years since the storm in the Capitol, but Ray and his wife Robin tell us they relive January 6th every day of their lives.
Robin Epps: Some people have said, “Okay, let it go, and let it die.”
Ray Epps: It doesn’t.
Robin Epps: What they don’t understand doesn’t happen.
Tucker Carlson: What exactly was Ray Epps’ role in the January 6 chaos?
Theory Epps, a former member of the Oath Keepers, was an FBI informant who incited the January 6th mob from a right-wing news site called Revolver News – run by a former Trump speechwriter…
Darren Beatty: He’s the smoking gun of the whole Fed-rise.
And Fox News lands in primetime…
Laura Ingraham: According to a new investigation by Revolver, Epps may have led the breach team that first entered the Capitol on Jan. 6…
Complex conspiracy theories have made their way to Capitol Hill.
Matt Getz: The Proud Boys are not involved in the initial breach. It was Ray Epps at that precise moment.
Thomas Massey: How did Ray Epps know there would be pipe bombs?
Ted Cruz: Mrs. Sanborn. Who is Ray Epps?
That question has animated Fox News host Tucker Carlson for nearly two years.
Tucker Carlson: Ray Epps? He is repeatedly in the video encouraging crime, rioting, violation of the capitol…
Carlson has focused on Epps more than 20 times on his top-rated show … a half-dozen times so far this year.
Ray Epps: He’s obsessed with me. He is going any way to destroy my life and our life.
Bill Whittaker: Why?
Ray Epps: Blaming someone else. If you look at it, Fox News, Marjorie Taylor Green, Ted Cruz, Getz, they were all telling us before this thing that it was stolen. So you tell me, who is more influenced by people, they or me?
Epps — once a loyal Fox News watcher — told us he couldn’t understand how he was cast as the villain. EPS’s version is more mundane: They believed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump… and January 6 considered a legitimate protest.
Ray Epps: It was a sloppy election. And then to top it off you’re talking about voting machines having problems and various things like that. The election was stolen. So yes, we had concerns. I wanted to be there. I wanted to see it with my own eyes.
Epps moved to Washington with his 36-year-old son and ran into trouble almost immediately. Conspiracy theories begin here – the night of January 5.
Ray Epps (January 5): Give me a minute! Give me a minute!
The pro-Trump rally, broadcast live on the Internet, saw tension in the streets of DC. The marine veteran tried to take over…
Ray Epps (on Jan 5): I’m just going to put it out there, I could probably go to jail for this. Tomorrow, we will go to the capitol! In the capital! (What?!) Peace! (Fade Fade Fade! Fade!)
To some in the crowd, Epps seemed so over the top, he must have been a government agent—a fed—sent to trap them.
BILL WHITAKER: When you said, “We’ve got to go to the Capitol, we’ve got to go to the Capitol.” what were you thinking
Ray Epps: I said some stupid things. My thought process, we surround the capitol, we get all the people there. I mean, I had a problem with the election. It was my responsibility as an American to protest peacefully, as anyone else would.
The next morning, January 6th, Epps approached the Washington Monument… still focused on a singular goal.
Ray Epps (Jan. 6): We’re going to the Capitol, where our problem is. It’s that direction!
President Trump (January 6): We’re going to walk the Capitol.
While President Trump was speaking on the Ellipse, Ray Epps was walking toward the Capitol. He told us he wanted to be at the front to help keep the peace. What happened next at the Peace Circle where the protesters were first seen as the smoking gun of the police. Epps pulled the agitated rioter aside and said something — conspirators say he was giving marching orders, because seconds later, it happened… The first Capitol Police officer went down.
BILL WHITAKER: As closely as you can remember, what exactly did you say to him?
Ray Epps: “Dude, that’s not what we’re here for. Cops ain’t the enemy,” or something like that.
BILL WHITAKER: Has anyone in the federal government directed you to be here at Peace Circle at this time?
Ray Epps: No.
Bill Whittaker: No one from the FBI?
Ray Epps: No.
Bill Whittaker: With your old comrades Oath Keeper?
Ray Epps: No.
BILL WHITAKER: I think what’s so shocking about the video is that there’s a barrier. The barrier is broken. And a police officer, a female police officer was knocked out. And the mob, including you, crosses the barrier and marches toward the Capitol.
Bill Whittaker: Why didn’t you stop to help this police officer who was knocked down?
Ray Epps: When he was knocked down and I started going towards him to help him. And I saw a billy club here in the corner of my eye. And I thought, “You know, they’ll think I’m part of it.” So I backed off.
BILL WHITAKER: You were part of it.
Ray Epps: I was there. I was not a part of that, knocking him down.
Robin Epps: And he wasn’t part of the violence. There is a big difference.
Bill Whittaker: Are you there?
Ray Epps was not seen committing any violence or entering the Capitol that day. Epps told us that when he saw the violence … his desire to enter the building turned into a desire to be a peacemaker.
And police body cam video backs him up.
Ray Epps: I thought I could pull it off. So I went back and forth. I talked to people. And I just work the lines forward and backward. “Move down, move down. We’re good here,” that kind of thing. And I kept at it for quite some time.
Epps said he left the Capitol grounds to help evacuate an injured person. Time: 2:54 PM
Ray Epps: I looked back at the Capitol, and there were people crawling over the walls of the Capitol. And to see it, it looked terrible. I mean, I was a little ashamed of what was going on at the time. So I started walking outside.
He told us that when he sent this text to his nephew. The conspirators saw this as the true confession of an agent provocateur.
Bill Whittaker: “I was up front with a few others. I arranged it.” Explain it to me.
Ray Epps: I was bragging to my nephew. I helped people get there. I was directing people to the Capitol that morning.
Bill Whittaker: You know how it sounds?
Ray Epps: I know how it sounds. I was scolded by my wife for using this word. I shouldn’t have used that word.
BILL WHITAKER: When you add all this up, as your critics have done, you give them a lot of ammunition to paint you as this instigator.
Ray Epps: I was tried to make a scapegoat.
Tom Josselin: If ray apes are a secret plant, they’re the worst secret plant ever. If you’re part of some elaborate conspiracy against thousands of people in Washington, DC, I don’t know why you’d want to stand out from the crowd like Ray Epps.
Tom Josselin is a researcher and author, one of the nation’s top terrorism experts … tapped by the committee on Jan. 6 to help write its final report, which found evidence that far-right groups like the Proud Boys planned and executed the Capitol breach. He says the committee interviewed Epps — and found he wasn’t important enough to put on the report.
Tom Josselin: I’m not going to defend Ray Epps or anyone else who was on the Capitol grounds that day. I’ll just protect the information. So the idea that he is leading the charge or indeed orchestrating it is contradicted by this mountain of evidence. And that’s what conspiracy theorists want you to do, right? They don’t want you to look at this mountain of evidence. They want you to turn around and focus on this pebble in the ground called Ray Eps. They also don’t want you to hear what President Trump is saying and doing.
He called Epps’ behavior confusing, but not proof of a conspiracy.
Tom Josselin: They had to come up with some kind of connective tissue between Ray Epps and the FBI, and they got none. And so they can make all sorts of ad hoc arguments to justify their beliefs, but that’s all they are. This is not true investigative work. This is not real evidence.
On Jan. 6, the committee looked at the evidence—videos, phone records, travel receipts—so did the FBI. When Epps returned to Arizona on January 8th – a relative told him he was “looking for information” on some of the rioters on an FBI poster.
Robin Epps: We literally hung up the phone and went straight home, sat down and called the FBI.
Bill Whittaker: Do you remember what you told the FBI?
Ray Epps: I told them who I was and that I would cooperate in any way I could. I have not broken any law.
Two months later, he met with agents.
Ray Epps: So when we meet with the FBI, I mean, “Finally. We’re going to clean this up.” Wasn’t, “I take the fifth.” It had nothing. It’s just like we’re talking now. I went through it all. And they had many questions.
In the summer of 2021, the FBI removed his photo from the bureau’s website. Epps thought this would end his troubles, but it only added fuel to the conspiracy.
Tucker Carlson: A new piece in “Revolver News” notes that the FBI removed a photo of Ray Epps from its Most Wanted page this summer.
President Trump: What about a man? Go in, go in. Yikes go there! Go! Go! Go! Nothing happens to him.
Epps would dispute that. After former President Trump mentioned Epps’ name, harassment and death threats escalated.
Bill Whittaker: “I pray,” to come to you to kill you. What do you think when you open such a letter?
Robin Epps: Scares me to death.
It got so bad that they were forced to sell their 5 acre farm outside of Phoenix. They’re now in hiding, living in this 300-square-foot recreational vehicle, somewhere in the Rocky Mountains—we’ve agreed to reveal exactly where.
Robin Epps: It’s sad what people have done to Ray, and to us and our lives. Sometimes I use my first name so we don’t draw attention.
Ray Epps: I have a hard time being a man, being a Marine, running away. I had to do what was necessary to keep my family safe.
If you’re wondering what the FBI has to say about all of this – it hasn’t said anything for the past two years. After repeated questions from 60 Minutes, late last week the bureau issued this statement — quote — “Ray Epps was never an FBI source or an FBI employee.”
Produced by Graham Messick. Associate Producer, Jack Wingert. Associate Producer, Eliza Costas. Edited by Robert Zimmett.