If Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson are pushing the same conspiracy theory, there’s a 99.9 percent chance that it’s nonsense. Well, one of their favorites about the attempted coup on January 6 has been 100 percent debunked.
The theory involves Ray Epps, who the Cruzs and Carlsons (and Trumps and Taylor Greenes) of the world believe was a federal informant who helped instigate the riot. “The claims, made in congressional hearing rooms, on Fox News, and at Mr. Trump’s political rallies, have largely been based on a video taken just before violence erupted at the Capitol, showing Mr. Epps at the barricades outside the building whispering into the ear of a man named Ryan Samsel,” the New York Times reports. But two days after January 6, Epps phoned an FBI tip-line and told them what actually happened:
[Epps] called an F.B.I. tip line and told investigators that he had tried to calm Mr. Samsel down when they spoke, according to three people who have heard a recording of the call. Mr. Epps went on to say that he explained to Mr. Samsel that the police outside the building were merely doing their jobs… Then in late January of last year, in an interview with the F.B.I., Mr. Samsel said much the same thing, telling investigators that a man he did not know came up to him at the barricades and suggested he relax, according to a recording of the interview obtained by the New York Times.
Samsel testified that all Epps said was “dude” and “relax, the cops are just doing their job.” As the Washington Post notes, “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,” including that the House committee investigating January 6th is “covering up important evidence” about Epps. But nope, it appears that he’s just a MAGA-loving wedding venue owner from Arizona, not a criminal mastermind.
Carlson can move on to another obsessions, like testicle tanning.