In less than a week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has gone from calling the Jan. 6 "a terrorist attack" to suggesting the FBI was behind the Capitol attack.
Questioning Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the National Security Branch of the FBI, Cruz asked about Ray Epps, who was filmed on Jan. 5 encouraging people to go "peacefully" into the Capitol on Jan. 6. The retired U.S. Marine owns a wedding venue in Arizona and is a long-running Oath Keeper, Snopes reported last week.
"I’m going to put it out there. I’ll probably go to jail for it. Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol. Into the Capitol. Peaceably! Peacefully! We are freedom, we are peaceful. That’s what it's about. It’s not about hurting people," Epps told the crowd.
People then began chanting "FED" alleging that Epps was a federal agent working with the government. He has since been alleged to be an FBI agent, despite the FBI's efforts to uncover who he was, along with those who broke into the Capitol.
#FBIWFO is seeking the public's assistance in identifying those who made unlawful entry into U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6. If you witnessed unlawful violent actions contact the #FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit photos/videos at http://fbi.gov/USCapitol\u00a0. https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/seeking-info/violence-at-the-united-states-capitol-2\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/vJQnUBmvRI— FBI Washington Field (@FBI Washington Field) 1610082615
Just last week, Cruz said, "anyone who commits an actual act of violence should be prosecuted, and anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer should go to jail for a very long time. And I think that's a principle that is true, regardless of the politics of the violent criminal, whether they are right-wing, left-wing or they got no wings at all."
Speaking Tuesday, Cruz promoted the conspiracy theory, which has been fact-checked by several sites, including PolitiFact.
First, Cruz ranted at Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division Matthew Olsen, demanding to know the total number of people who have been arrested for Jan. 6. That number changes weekly and Olsen didn't know the current number. He then demanded to know how many Jan. 6 attackers were in jail awaiting trial, because trials happen every day, that number also changes. According to the FBI count last week, 738 people have been arrested for Jan. 6.
Cruz then compared the Jan. 6 attacks with the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 and asked Olsen how many people were arrested from those. He said he knows hundreds but didn't know the exact number. At least 300 were arrested on June 1, 2020 alone. More than 150 are still awaiting trial for felony charges. In fact, the Associated Press revealed that over 10,000 people in 140 cities were arrested during protests starting after May 25, 2020, the date George Floyd was killed.
As Cruz elevated the conspiracy theory, he asked if Epps was a federal agent, which Sanborn said she couldn't answer. The theory is that if insurrectionists can prove that Ray Epps was an FBI agent then they can claim the entire Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was done as an FBI operation. In the hundreds of people arrested for Jan. 6, indictment documents walk through social media evidence showing their long-term support of President Donald Trump and, in some case, a celebration of their participation at the riots.
Immediately after Cruz's rant, Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) entered into the record the PolitiFact story saying that there's still no evidence that the FBI was involved in Jan. 6.
The Jan. 6 Committee later tweeted that they spoke to Epps for their investigation and he testified that he is not an informant for the FBI nor has he ever worked for the FBI.
The Committee has interviewed Epps. Epps informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on Jan 5th or 6th or at any other time, & that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.— January 6th Committee (@January 6th Committee) 1641934693
See the video of Cruz and Durbin's opening statement below:
Ted Cruz tries to save face by blaming FBI for Jan. 6 after calling it "domestic terrorism" www.youtube.com
Watch now: 'Our democracy is in the crosshairs of domestic terrorism,' Durbin says www.youtube.com