DOVER, Del. – A former Donald Trump supporter who turned the middle of a conspiracy idea about Jan. 6, 2021, filed a defamation lawsuit in opposition to Fox Information on Wednesday, saying the community made him a scapegoat for the U.S. Capitol rebel.
Raymond Epps, a former Marine who mentioned he was pressured from his Arizona house due to threats, is asking for unspecified damages and a jury trial.
He filed his lawsuit in Superior Courtroom in Delaware, the identical court docket the place Dominion Voting Methods sued Fox for lies broadcast following the 2020 presidential election. Shortly earlier than a trial was to start this spring, Fox agreed to pay Dominion $787 million to settle the costs.
Fox didn’t reply to texts, telephone calls and emails searching for touch upon Epps’ lawsuit.
The go well with additionally says the Justice Division informed Epps in Might that he faces felony prices for his actions on Jan. 6, and blames that on “the relentless attacks by Fox and Mr. Carlson and the resulting political pressure.”
Epps, who had traveled to Washington for the Jan. 6 demonstration, was falsely accused by Fox of being a government agent who was whipping up trouble that would be blamed on Trump supporters, the lawsuit claims.
“In the aftermath of the events of January 6th, Fox News searched for a scapegoat to blame other than Donald Trump or the Republican Party,” the lawsuit says. “Eventually, they turned on one of their own.”
Although the lawsuit mentions Fox’s Laura Ingraham and Will Cain, former Fox host Tucker Carlson is cited as the leader in promoting the theory. Epps was featured in more than two dozen segments on Carlson’s prime-time show, the lawsuit said. Fox News fired Carlson shortly after the Dominion settlement was announced.
Carlson “was bluntly telling his viewers that it was a fact that Epps was a government informant,” the lawsuit says. “And they believed him.”
Carlson ignored evidence that contradicted his theory, including Epps’ testimony before a congressional committee investigating the insurrection that he was not working for the government, and videos provided by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that showed Epps’ efforts to try to defuse the situation, the lawsuit says.
Carlson shouldn’t be named as a defendant within the lawsuit. Epps’ lawyer, Michael Teter, famous that Carlson “was an employee of Fox when he lied about Ray, and Fox broadcast those defamatory falsehoods.”
“Fox is therefore fully liable for Mr. Carlson’s statements,” Teter mentioned.
The former Fox star did not respond to a text message seeking comment.
Also Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray, in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, denied having any knowledge of Epps being a “secret government agent.”
“I will say this notion that somehow the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was part of some operation orchestrated by FBI sources and agents is ludicrous,” Wray told lawmakers. He refused to say, however, how many of the people who entered the Capitol and surrounding area on Jan. 6 were either FBI employees or people with whom the FBI had made contact.
Meanwhile, Epps claims in his lawsuit that, as a result of the alleged defamatory statements made by Fox, he and his wife have been the target of harassment and death threats from Trump supporters, forced to sell the Arizona ranch where they ran a successful wedding venue business, and now face financial ruin. According to the lawsuit, Epps and his wife are now living in a recreational vehicle in Utah.
The lawsuit shows threatening messages Epps says he obtained, together with one which reads, “Epps, sleep with one eye open.”
In his defamation suit, Epps claims that on Jan. 5, the day before the storming of the Capitol, he tried to defuse a tense situation between Trump supporters and police, confronting an agitator referred to in the lawsuit as “Baked Alaska.” That man, later recognized as far-right social media persona Anthime Gionet, was sentenced earlier this 12 months to 60 days in jail.
Epps says that in an effort to influence Trump supporters that he was on their facet, he informed them, “I’m probably gonna go to jail for this. Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol. Peacefully.”
Epps claims within the lawsuit that he was “shocked and disappointed” when demonstrators began climbing the scaffolding and partitions across the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“He had concerns about the election and believed it was his duty as a citizen to participate in the protest. But he did not believe violence was appropriate,” the lawsuit claims.
Bauder reported from New York.
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