Paul Russell Johnson Claims James Ray Epps Can Help Defense – What We Know!

James Ray Epps (L) and Paul Russell Johnson (R)

James Ray Epps (L) and Paul Russell Johnson (R) (photos through FBI)

One of many males accused of assaulting cops on the space of the U.S. Capitol often known as the Peace Circle says {that a} man on the heart of a disproven Jan. 6-related conspiracy idea is a key a part of his protection.

Paul Russell Johnson is one in every of a number of defendants who allegedly knocked over a police barricade outdoors the Capitol on Jan. 6, inflicting one officer to undergo a concussion.

“It’s our home,” Johnson allegedly shouted at police by a megaphone as a rising crowd gathered on the Peace Circle. “We pay your payments. We pay for this … that’s some bullshit.”

Johnson, together with co-defendants Ryan Samsel, James Tate Grant, Stephen Chase Randolph, and Jason Benjamin Blythe, are accused of working collectively to overturn a police barricade by pulling and pushing it forwards and backwards. The rocking finally knocked an officer to the steps, inflicting her to hit her head. In response to prosecutors, that officer blacked out and collapsed; she was taken to the emergency room the place she was identified with having suffered a concussion.

The confrontation occurred at round 12:50 p.m., as the group of Donald Trump supporters on the Capitol grew more and more violent. Inside hours, the mob had pushed previous legislation enforcement and breached the constructing, briefly stopping Congress from certifying Joe Biden‘s win within the 2020 presidential election.

Photographs and movies of the assault on the Peace Circle seem to point out Arizona man James Ray Epps on the entrance of the group on the time. Conspiracy theorists falsely painted Epps as an undercover FBI operative. He isn’t one.

The misinformation marketing campaign surrounding Epps started with the fringe-right web site Revolver. Fox Information speaking head Tucker Carlson later amplified that story, which was later blared by main figures of the pro-Trump political proper: together with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Trump himself.

Epps, the speculation goes, was planted by the FBI to rile up the pro-Trump crowd on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6.

“Tomorrow, we have to go in to the Capitol! Into the Capitol” Epps seems to say on a video allegedly taken on Jan. 5.

“Peacefully,” he provides after some within the surrounding crowd seem to not agree.

In response, the right-wing media character often known as “Baked Alaska“—actual identify Tim Gionet—begins main the group in a chant: “Fed! Fed! Fed!”

In video taken on Jan. 6, Epps is seen yelling right into a crowd: “OK, of us, unfold the phrase! As quickly because the president is finished talking, we go to the Capitol. The Capitol is that this course.”

Cruz later mentioned individuals had been “understandably very involved” about the truth that Epps wasn’t arrested or charged in reference to Jan. 6, and needed an evidence as to why “an individual videoed urging individuals to go to the Capitol, an individual whose conduct was so suspect the group believed he was a fed, would magically disappear from the record of the individuals the FBI was taking a look at.”

Trump made related statements at a rally later that month.

“How in regards to the one man, ‘Go in, go in, get in there, everyone,’ Epps. ‘Get in there, go, go.’ Nothing occurs to him. What occurred with him? Nothing occurred,” he mentioned in Arizona on Jan. 15.

Nonetheless, in response to a number of reality checks, Epps is a staunch Trump supporter. He has hyperlinks to the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group, and was listed because the president of the Arizona chapter in 2011. He has been pictured with Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes, who has been charged with seditious conspiracy in reference to the Jan. 6 assault.

In January, the Home committee investigating the Jan. 6 assaults mentioned in a tweet that it had interviewed Epps.

“The Choose Committee is conscious of unsupported claims that Ray Epps was an FBI informant based mostly on the truth that he was on the FBI Wished record after which was faraway from that record with out being charged,” the tweet mentioned. “The Committee has interviewed Epps. Epps knowledgeable us that he was not employed by, working with, or appearing on the course of any legislation enforcement company on Jan fifth or sixth or at every other time.”

However whereas Epps was apparently not an FBI plant, Johnson’s legal professional Kobie Flowers believes he’s essential to his shopper’s case.

“Our argument is that James Ray Epps was concerned within the assault on the Capitol in a means that will be useful to our protection,” Flowers mentioned at a standing convention earlier than U.S. District Decide Jia Cobb on Tuesday. He didn’t elaborate on what these causes could possibly be, and didn’t instantly reply to Legislation&Crime’s request for clarification.

Flowers informed Cobb that he was ready for prosecutors to offer him with extra discovery and knowledge Epps.

In lots of Jan. 6 instances, particularly these with a number of defendants, discovery—the trade of knowledge between the events to a case—is a typically painfully gradual course of. As the federal government’s sprawling prosecution of these accused of attacking the Capitol continues into its second yr, authorities legal professionals insist that they’re making their finest efforts to share discovery with protection attorneys, however with the DOJ just lately confirming its addition of 131 new attorneys to work on the Capitol breach instances, it’s unimaginable to know when discovery will finish.

“New individuals could get arrested, new issues could also be acquired,” Assistant U.S. Lawyer Karen Rochlin mentioned at Tuesday’s listening to. “A few of these issues could also be related to this case, and when the prosecution workforce turns into conscious of that, we’ll make each human effort to reveal that information or info forthwith.”

Though Cobb, a Biden appointee, had hoped to set the case for trial, the legal professionals couldn’t agree on a date at the moment. Cobb set a standing convention for Could 3.

[Images via FBI.]

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