One of the right’s favorite conspiracy theories about Jan. 6 is falling apart: columnist
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One of the right's conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 insurrection has been debunked.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Fox News host Tucker Carlson and other Republicans have insisted that rioter Ray Epps was an FBI informant who manipulated Donald Trump supporters into storming the U.S. Capitol, based on a video that shows him whispering into the ear of a man who then confronts police.

But new reporting disproves that conspiracy theory, reported the Washington Post.

"It turns out that the Pennsylvania man actually informed FBI investigators that Epps told him to 'relax,' not to attack, according to audio the Times obtained," wrote the Post's Greg Sargent. "And Epps himself separately told the FBI the same thing, the [New York] Times reports, once again undermining the conspiracy theory."

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Epps' attorney insists he's not an FBI agent, and the theory had already been debunked by Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, but Carlson has shared the conspiracy theory with viewers and Cruz has confronted FBI officials during Senate hearings over the bogus claims.

"It’s important to stress that Republicans and right-wing media have constructed a whole superstructure of other wild allegations on top of this Epps tale," Sargent wrote. "These include claims that the Jan. 6 House committee is covering up important evidence of Epps’s role. That the FBI itself has suppressed this evidence. That the Justice Department is withholding such evidence from Congress. And that the Jan. 6 mob might have been seeded with many more FBI false-flag operators."

The real story of the Jan. 6 insurrection is how democratic institutions withstood the assault by Trump and his supporters, Sargent wrote, but the lies they're telling serve to weaken those same institutions and allow the former president to escape accountability.

"Right now, the truly bad actors are the ones wielding lurid agitprop about our institutions in order to undermine the full Jan. 6 reckoning we need," Sargent wrote. "So let’s hope that, along with the collapsing false-flag tale, in the public mind the larger story they’re trying to tell also implodes."