Who is Ray Epps? Fox News-fueled conspiracy theory about Jan. 6 insurrection gets a brutal fact check
Republican lawmakers and former president Donald Trump are spreading conspiracy theories about a "Stop the Steal" protester to blame the FBI for the Jan. 6 insurrection.
At a rally last month in Arizona, the twice-impeached one-term president identified Ray Epps, one of his supporters from the Phoenix area, as an FBI informant and agent provocateur during the Capitol riot, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) have suggested law enforcement may have spurred the attack, reported the Washington Post.
"Self-proclaimed Internet sleuths, seeking to prove the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was the work of federal agents, latch onto 'clues,'" wrote fact-checker Glenn Kessler. "Partisan players weave the clues into misleading narratives. Then Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson elevate these claims, over and over. That catches the attention of lawmakers eager to win favor with the Trump base. Idle speculation becomes embraced as established fact."
"Few of these actors feel compelled to do the basics of journalism and ask questions to try to explain what appears to be a mystery," Kessler added. "Epps’s attorney is remarkably easy to reach — he immediately picks up the phone. Experts on FBI procedure can be found as well. So let’s dive into this."
The 60-year-old Epps, who hosts weddings and other events at a farm he owns with his wife, traveled from Arizona to Washington, D.C., to protest Trump's election loss, and he was recorded on video on Jan. 5, 2021, encouraging others to go inside the Capitol to "peacefully" protest, and he at one point appeared to be listed on an FBI website seeking the identifies of those involved in the riot.
But Epps, who had been involved about a decade ago with the Oath Keepers militia whose leaders were indicted last week on seditious conspiracy charges, has not been arrested in connection with the insurrection -- which fueled conspiracy theories that he was a government agent, but no evidence has turned up to support those claims.
"There is no evidence that Epps is a federal agent or informant," Kessler wrote. "The available video evidence shows he was part of the crowd at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a place where the day before he had said he would go — but no videos have emerged showing that he committed or urged acts of violence. He does not appear to have entered the Capitol building itself."
Epps has been interviewed by the FBI, which so far found no evidence that he had gone inside the Capitol or broken any other laws, and his attorney said he has cooperated with law enforcement, and he doesn't appear to have any recent association with the Oath Keepers.
"So there is no mystery why his photo is no longer on the FBI’s website asking for his identification," Kessler wrote. "Epps may yet be charged. But in an event of this magnitude — hundreds of criminal cases — investigators must make choices all the time about whether a prosecution is worth the effort."
"The innuendo and speculation about Epps is worthy of Four Pinocchios," Kessler concludes.
Donald Trump lied about his Trump Tower apartment — saying it was larger than his upstate mansion: NY AG
New York City is notorious for small apartments, but former President Donald Trump frequently showed off his large penthouse apartment at the top of Trump Tower, but it apparently wasn't quite as big as he claimed.
Trump not only lied about the size of his inauguration crowd and the size, the size of his Jan. 6 rally, and ultimately his election vote size, he also allegedly lied about the size of his Manhattan apartment.
According to supplemental documents filed by Attorney General Letitia James, Trump grossly inflated the size to 30,000 square feet. If the apartment was that big, it would make it about 2,000 square feet larger than the Georgian mansion in Westchester County, New York.
"Valuations of this asset as incorporated into the Statements of Financial Condition since at least 2012 were based on the assertion that the triplex apartment was 30,000 square feet in size," the court filings say. "Evidence indicates that Mr. Weisselberg and Mr. McConney both participated in such valuations."
It went on to say that the triplex apartment is actually only 10,996 square feet, citing "the condominium offering plan and associated amendments for Trump Tower" which the filings said, "were easily accessible inside the Trump Organization, were signed by Mr. Trump, and were sent to Mr. Weisselberg in 2012."
Such documents directly tie the president to the possible crimes of lying on his official documents.
You can read the full statement from the New York AG's office here. An interview with Melania Trump during the 2016 campaign reveals some of the details of the penthouse, which you can see below:
Melania Trump reveals 'The Donald's' greatest pet peeve ... www.youtube.com
Queen Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew has deactivated his social media accounts, users said Wednesday, as he faces a US civil case for sexual assault.
Andrew's official Twitter account @TheDukeOfYork now opens with a message saying "This account doesn't exist".
His YouTube account also comes up with an error message and a picture of a monkey.
The prince's Instagram and Facebook pages appeared still to be open, though the Instagram was set to private.
The Daily Mail cited a source close to the 61-year-old prince as saying these accounts have also been removed and are no longer live.
This comes after announcements last week that the prince has ceased using his HRH, or His Royal Highness, title, and has also given up honorary military titles bestowed by the Queen.
The move effectively removes him from official royal life.
His accuser Victoria Giuffre has said that she had sex with the prince while aged 17 after meeting him through the late US financer and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The prince denies the allegations but lost a bid to dismiss the civil suit.
Andrew withdrew from public life as a royal in 2019 after a widely ridiculed BBC interview where he sought to vindicate himself of the accusation that he sexually assaulted a minor.
Since then he has been occasionally photographed driving or riding around the Queen's private estate in eastern England, Sandringham.
He did not appear in the official wedding photographs when his daughter Beatrice got married in 2020.
In other signs of social ostracism, the York Racecourse in northern England has announced it is renaming an event called The Duke of York Stakes -- even though this refers to an earlier bearer of the title.
And a police station in Devon in southern England has removed a plaque saying it was opened by the Duke of York, citing a complaint from a member of the public, the BBC reported this week.
Armed forces minister James Heappey on Wednesday said Andrew had kept "horrifically ill-advised" company, and the US case would overshadow celebrations later this year for his mother's 70 years on the throne.
The decision to strip former Royal Navy helicopter pilot Andrew of his honorary military titles was reportedly made by the Queen and senior members of the royal family.
His nephew, second-in-line to the throne Prince William was asked by a reporter on Wednesday if he supported his uncle, during a visit to a London museum.
But William made no response. William's father, Prince Charles, ignored a similar question last week.
© 2022 AFP