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Ray Epps, man at center of right-wing Jan. 6 conspiracy, pleads guilty

Ray Epps: The 60 Minutes Interview
Ray Epps: The 60 Minutes Interview 13:31

Ray Epps, a member of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, who became the focus of widespread conspiracy theories that he was a federal agent, has pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds in his Capitol riot case. 

Epps, a former Marine and Trump supporter, appeared virtually before Washington, D.C., chief federal judge James Boasberg Wednesday afternoon to enter his plea. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he'll face between zero and six months in prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19. 

As part of the plea 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. He also acknowledged saying on Jan. 5, 2021, "We need to go into the Capitol… I'm possibly going to jail for it"

He was seen on a livestream that day 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."

Epps will also have to pay $500 in restitution. 

Pro-Trump Protests get Violent over Electoral College Certification
Ray Epps, in the red Trump hat, center, gestures to a line of law enforcement officers as people gather on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Kent Nishimura

There's been no evidence to suggest the conspiracy theory claiming Epps was some sort of plant working for the government who was used as part of a plot to turn the Jan. 6 protests violent is accurate. The FBI in April responded to repeated "60 Minutes" inquiries on the issue with a statement, saying: "Ray Epps has never been an FBI source or an FBI employee."  

The theory gained prominence on the right-wing news site Revolver News, run by a former speechwriter for former President Trump, and was mentioned by several Fox News hosts and Trump himself. Epps told "60 Minutes" he used to be a loyal Fox News viewer, but said Tucker Carlson, who mentioned him multiple times when he was still with the network, was "going to any means possible to destroy my life and our lives."

Epps insisted he went to Washington, D.C., in January of 2021 because he believed the election had been stolen from Trump and "It was my duty as an American to peacefully protest, along with anybody else that wanted to."

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault has called the claims that Epps was an FBI informant "unsupported."   

The charges and his guilty plea haven't quieted the conspiracy theories.

When asked about Epps today at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland told legislators that Epps isn't and wasn't an FBI employee or informant.  

Rep Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, argued Wednesday that Epps was coddled and given a sweetheart deal by the Justice Dept. Massie called the single charge to which Epps pleaded guilty "a joke."

— Bill Whitaker and Aliza Chasen contributed reporting.

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