Last month, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, mentioned Mr. Epps – and her supposed role in fomenting the Capitol riot – during an Atlanta hearing held to determine whether she should be called a ‘insurrectionary’ and barred from office under the Constitution.
The tapes of Mr. Epps and Mr. Samsel were released by the government last week as pre-trial disclosure to dozens of defense attorneys representing those charged with crimes related to the Capitol attack. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on why prosecutors kept the documents for so long and decided not to release them.
Right-wing talk of Mr. Epps, who is 60 and runs a wedding and events venue in Queen Creek, Arizona, began last spring after videos of him at a pro-Trump rally in Washington began circulating online. Besides the clip with Mr. Samsel, Mr. Epps was filmed standing in a crowd of Trump supporters on the night of Jan. 5, 2021, urging his compatriots to “come to the Capitol” the next day.
During a hearing in October, Rep. Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, showed the clip of Mr. Epps encouraging the crowd and used it to question Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on whether officers Federals had acted as agitators on January 6.
Mr. Epps’ story gained traction as the one-year anniversary of the Capitol attack approached when Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson featured it in a documentary titled “Patriot Purge,” which suggested that the attack on the Capitol could have been a “false flag”. operation by the government.
Soon after, questions about Mr. Epps were raised again in a Senate hearing – this time by Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas.
“There are a lot of people who are understandably very concerned about Mr. Epps,” he said.
According to people who heard Mr. Epps’ recording, he told the FBI during his call that instigators may have been in the crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6. But he explained he was not one of them and did not suggest anyone cheering on the crowd that day worked for the government.