Ray Epps, Central Figure in Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theories Pushed by Tucker Carlson, Pleads Guilty

Ray Epps, a central figure in conspiracy theories pushed by ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson about the January 6 Capitol riot, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge for his role in the attack on the Capitol.


Ray Epps, a former Donald Trump supporter, militia group member, and central figure in conspiracy theories pushed by ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson about the January 6 Capitol riot, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge for his role in the attack on the Capitol.

  • Epps entered a guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct on restricted grounds via videoconference one day after the Justice Department charged him.
  • The plea deal includes provisions where the government pledged to not prosecute Epps further for his actions at the Capitol riot and Epps’ acceptance of law enforcement reviews of his social media accounts. Epps will be sentenced on December 20 and faces up to one year in prison.
  • As part of his deal, “Epps acknowledged moving through downed police barriers on Jan. 6 and admitted to placing his hands on a sign that was later pushed into police officers by the mob.” Epps can be seen on video from January 5, 2021 saying “I’m gonna put it out there, I’m probably gonna go to jail for this. Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol! Into the Capitol! Peacefully! Peacefully.”
  • Tucker Carlson made Epps the focus of dozens of segments of his former show. Carlson claimed without evidence that Epps was an undercover government agent, and that the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was a “false flag” attack orchestrated by the FBI instead of a riot caused by out-of-control Trump supporters taken advantage of by organized right-wing paramilitary groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.
  • The 62-year-old Epps is a former marine and a past member of the Oath Keepers militia group. He has said that the conspiracy theories promoted by Carlson resulted in death threats and forced he and his wife to flee their home and live in hiding.
  • At the conclusion of Epps’ hearing, federal prosecutor Michael Gordon asked to make a statement for the record. Gordon told the court “that Epps ‘was not, before, during, or after’ January 6 a confidential human source or an undercover government agent.”
  • Epps sued Fox News for defamation in July and is seeking a jury trial in Delaware and damages from the network. In the July filing, Epps accused Fox News of “spreading falsehoods” and a “fantastical story” about him because the network was looking for “a scapegoat for January 6th.”


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • “It remains unclear why the Justice Department decided to charge Mr. Epps now, more than two and a half years after the Capitol attack,” the New York Times observed. “The charging document used against him, known as a criminal information, was filed two months after he brought a defamation lawsuit against Fox News, ensuring that his story would remain in the public eye for months, if not years. It also came after he decided to fight back against the conspiracy theory in the news media, granting interviews to both The New York Times and CBS’s ‘60 Minutes.’”
  • The Washington Post observed denials from top DOJ officials of any ties between the government and Epps have not persuaded Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). Massie told Attorney General Merrick Garland that Epps indictment the day before Garland testified was a “wonderful coincidence” and claimed “the American public isn’t buying it” without elaborating.
  • Mediaite covered the comments from Epps’ attorney attacking Fox News after Epps’ guilty plea. The plea “is also powerful evidence of the absurdity of Fox News’s and Tucker Carlson’s lies that sought to turn Ray into a scapegoat for January 6,” said Michael Teter in a statement. “Had Ray been charged earlier, Fox News would have called him a hero and political prisoner. Instead, Fox News spread falsehoods about Ray that have cost him his livelihood and safety. And to this day, Fox News has not retracted the lies or even reported on Ray’s prosecution.”



  • The New York Post recalled FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before Congress earlier in 2023, when he said under oath that Epps was not an undercover agent and that the idea the Capitol riot was “orchestrated” by the FBI (during the Trump administration and under a Trump-appointed FBI director) was “ludicrous.”
  • The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft thinks that Epps’ guilty plea is “suspicious” and just “regime theatrics.” Hoft claims Epps was the “only” rioter caught on video urging people to enter the Capitol, which says more about how much footage Hoft has watched and the Gateway Pundit’s fact-checking operation than it does about anything else. Epps is apparently the only Jan. 6 rioter that the Gateway Pundit thinks should be punished more.
  • National Review’s Ryan Mills noted “Most people who participated in the January 6 riot were not charged with a crime unless they entered the Capitol, fought with police officers, or destroyed property.” Mills noted Epps is not believed to have entered the Capitol, which likely contributed to the lighter charges he faces compared to those handed to militia leaders Stewart Rhodes and Enrique Tarrio.  

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© Dominic Moore, 2023