On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "The Lead," anchor Jake Tapper was overcome with laughter in conversation with correspondent Ryan Nobles while discussing a new conspiracy theory Republicans are promoting about the origin of the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
"This is a fringe conspiracy theory, but I have to ask you because it's showing up at congressional hearings raised by House and Senate Republicans," said Tapper. "An Arizona man, Ray Epps, has become a target of what appears to be a completely baseless right-wing conspiracy theory that he was an undercover FBI agent or informant or operative at the Capitol on January 6th last year. That he was planted by the government, this is the conspiracy theory. Planted by the government to encourage the insurrection. From his public profile and from reports about Epps, it appears he's a Trump supporter and a former member of the Arizona branch of the far right-wing group the Oath Keepers. Has the January 6th Committee looked into this accusation at all to see if there's any truth to it?"
"Yes, they have," said Nobles. "The committee put out a statement yesterday saying that they have interviewed and talked with Ray Epps about his conduct around the Capitol on January 6th, and that they specifically asked Epps if he's ever been employed by any federal government agency, specifically the FBI, to which he told them no. They also specifically asked him if he was an informant. He also said that he has never at any point in his life been an FBI informant."
"Part of this conspiracy — there's no evidence of which to back up — is at one point Epps was on a list of individuals that the FBI was looking for, as it relates to activity related to the Capitol insurrection, and he was eventually taken off that list," added Nobles. "The conspiracy theorists have run wild with that, many of them members of Congress. Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene. Of course, none of that has to do with his status as FBI informant."
"They thought the FBI put an image of one of their undercover operatives online and said 'wanted' and then took it off?" said Tapper, bursting out laughing. "That makes no sense at all."
"That's the most specific piece of quote-unquote 'evidence' they've offered when it comes to this conspiracy theory, Jake," said Nobles. "There's just nothing else that would lend you to believe there's any facts."
Tapper then said that the conspiracy theorists are "not exactly a Mensa group."
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