Some GOP skeptics of the official narrative surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot believe the events of that day last year were at least in part instigated by undercover FBI agents and informants.
When U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) sought to settle the matter during a committee hearing this week, a pair of federal government officials offered few specifics.
Cruz confronts assistant AG
According to reports, the Texas Republican questioned representatives from both the Justice Department and FBI during Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Cruz first addressed Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, asking several questions related to how many individuals had been arrested and charged in connection with the riot. He also wanted to know how many were facing violent crime charges versus how many were accused of non-violent offenses.
Finally, Cruz asked Olsen how many of these defendants remained behind bars.
The assistant attorney general was unable or unwilling to answer these questions, so Cruz shifted gears to address how the Justice Department handled prosecuting suspects in the Jan. 6 riot differently than charges against those accused of criminal actions during widespread and often destructive protests throughout much of 2020.
Cruz later questioned the FBI’s executive assistant director of national security.
“I can’t answer that”
According to the New York Post, the senator asked Jill Sanborn questions similar to those that went unanswered by Olsen — and received a similar result.
Specifically, Cruz asked her how many FBI agents or informants “actively participated” in the Jan. 6 riots and had committed “crimes of violence” or worked to “encourage or incite crimes of violence” during that period.
“I can’t answer that,” Sanborn repeated after initially stating that she was unable to comment on certain “sources and methods” used by the bureau.
Cruz also asked her about Ray Epps, an individual reportedly caught on camera on both the day of the riot and the day before encouraging people to invade the Capitol building. As the Washington Examiner explained, the development sparked suspicion that some members of the crowd were federal agents trying to effectively entrap supporters of then-President Donald trump.
The senator appeared on Fox News later the same evening to denounce the non-answers he received from federal officials. He explained: “It should be very easy for the FBI to say no. No federal agents participated in violent crimes. No, no federal agents actively incited, encouraged others to commit violent crimes. If they were doing their jobs, those would be very easy questions to answer. They refused to answer those.”