Fox News sued two-time Trump voter Ray Epps for defamation over January 6 conspiracy claims

Chicago
By Chicago 6 Min Read

Ray Epps, a frequent subject of Fox News segments and a Trump supporter who has become the subject of conspiracy charges, is suing Fox News for defamation.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware Superior Court, accuses Fox of “creating and spreading destructive conspiracy theories” and recklessly ignoring the truth.

Epps’ lawsuit alleges that Fox News used Epps as a “scapegoat” after the January 6, 2021 storming of the United States Capitol and told “a fantastic story in which Ray Epps – who was a Trump supporter who participated at the January 6 protests — he was an undercover FBI agent and was responsible for the mob that violently stormed the Capitol and interfered with the peaceful transition of power for the first time in this country’s history.”

Epps voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020 and acknowledged being in a crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He said Fox News provided a platform and audience for claims that Epps was a federal agent “planted as a provocateur to ignite Capitol violence”.

His civil suit makes specific allegations about former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson. The lawsuit read: “Fox, and specifically Mr. Carlson, has launched a years-long campaign spreading falsehoods about Epps. Those lies destroyed Ray’s and (his wife’s) lives. As Fox recently learned in his lawsuit against Dominion Voting Systems, its lies have consequences”.

After the Capitol riot, Carlson covered Epps on his Fox News show more than 20 times.

“Ray Epps? He’s on video multiple times encouraging crimes, riots, Capitol violations,” Carlson said in a segment.

Epps told Bill Whitaker on CBS’ “60 Minutes” earlier this year that he went to the Capitol because he believed the election had been stolen from Trump. On January 5, 2021, the night before the riot, he went to a demonstration and said, “Tomorrow we have to go to the Capitol! To the Capitol!” Trump supporters responded, “What?” And Epps added: “Peacefully!” This was met with shouts of “Fed Fed Fed! Fed!” He explained to Whitaker that he meant there should be peaceful protests at the Capitol, but he admits, “I said stupid things.”

On January 6, he was seen on video on Capitol Hill stepping aside and saying something to a rioter. Conspiracists say he was giving marching orders, because seconds later, the first Capitol Police officer fell. Epps told CBS that when he saw the violence, he wanted to calm things down instead. He was never seen committing an act of violence that day or entering the Capitol. She later spoke to the FBI and in the summer of 2021, the FBI removed the photo of him from his website.

Carlson acknowledged the photo’s removal. And Trump also replied: “How about a boy? Come in, come in. Come in! Epps. Come in! Go! Go! Go! Nothing happens to him.”

Epps said the threats and harassment that followed forced him to sell his ranch outside of Phoenix. He and his wife now live tucked away in a 300-square-foot RV somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

The FBI said in a statement to “60 Minutes” in April, “Ray Epps has never been an FBI source or an FBI employee.”

Epps reveals in his civil suit that he expects to face criminal charges for his role in the Capitol mob. The lawsuit said: “In May 2023, the Justice Department served Epps with notice that it would seek to prosecute him for the events of January 6, 2021, two and a half years later. FOX and Mr. Carlson’s relentless attacks and subsequent pressure policy probably led to the criminal charges”.

In the lawsuit, Epps claims he is not a federal agent, but that he was a loyal viewer of Fox News and a Trump supporter. His lawsuit claims, “If the Justice Department had charged Epps in 2021, Mr. Carlson would have hailed Epps as a hero.”

Epps’ lawsuit seeks trial and compensatory and punitive damages from Fox.

Requests for comment by civil lawyers for Fox and Epps were not immediately returned.

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