Still mending fences with right-wing Republicans for calling the Jan. 6 Capitol riot a “terrorist attack,” Sen. Ted Cruz expanded his outreach Tuesday by promoting a conspiracy theory that pins blame for the assault on FBI provocateurs.
“A lot of Americans are concerned that the federal government deliberately encouraged illegal and violent conduct on January 6,” Cruz told a top FBI official at a hearing on domestic extremism. “Did federal agents or those in service of federal agents actively encourage violent and criminal conduct on January 6?”
“Not to my knowledge, sir,” responded Jill Sanborn, executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch.
But by then, Cruz had used his platform at the Judiciary Committee hearing to insinuate that a man named Ray Epps — an Arizona rancher and former president of the Arizona Oath Keepers, the largest chapter of a militia group whose members took part in the Capitol attack — had incited violence on orders from unnamed federal officials.