Fact Check

Did Pelosi Speak to Trump Supporter Ray Epps by Phone Before Jan. 6 Capitol Riot?

Epps was captured on video urging attendees of Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally to march on the Capitol.

Published March 10, 2023

 (Twitter Screenshot)
Image Via Twitter Screenshot
Evidence gathered via Freedom of Information Act requests show a dozen calls between the cellphone of Arizona Trump supporter Ray Epps and the office of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the week before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Since mid-2022, social media users have repeatedly shared the claim that during the week before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, then-U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke at least a dozen times on the phone with Ray Epps, an Arizona Trump supporter some believe was a government instigator and informant in connection with that attack. 

Such statements are typically accompanied by the additional claim that evidence to support it was acquired via federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Despite the persistence of these claims, they are false. 

The notion that Pelosi had contact with Epps, who was captured on video urging attendees of Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally to march on the Capitol, is a linchpin in various conspiracy theories aimed at deflecting blame for the Jan. 6 insurrection away from Trump and his supporters to agents of the so-called "deep state," of which conspiracy theorists consider Pelosi a leader. 

However, no actual evidence, in the form of FOIA documents or otherwise, has ever been put forward to support the claim that Pelosi and Epps had any kind of contact. Moreover, FOIA doesn't apply to members of Congress, so no FOIA records directly applicable to Pelosi could have been obtained under the act. The claim that such records were obtained in this instance is quite simply a lie.

As for Epps, he became a target of interest for conspiracy theorists hawking a "false flag" narrative of the Capitol attack when the Department of Justice decided not to arrest him in connection with Jan. 6 — a decision conspiracists regarded with suspicion. But as we have previously reported, Epps' activities on that day were limited to urging Trump supporters to march peacefully from the rally to the Capitol. It doesn't appear he went into the Capitol himself or participated in any illegal activities. Nor is there evidence that he was an FBI informant or provocateur. 

Lastly, it makes little sense that if Pelosi and Epps were both part of a government conspiracy to mount a false flag attack on the Capitol, Pelosi would have been in direct contact with someone who played as minor a role as Epps did. The fact-checking website PolitiFact has also reported that a Pelosi spokesperson said the claim was false. 


Division, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). "What Information Is Not Available under the FOIA?" HHS.Gov, 17 Sept. 2015, https://www.hhs.gov/foia/faqs/what-information-is-not-available-under-the-foia/index.html.

Evon, Dan. "Who Is Ray Epps?" Snopes, 7 Jan. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/articles/389126/who-is-ray-epps/.

Jan. Capitol Riots Archives | Snopes.Com. https://www.snopes.com/tag/jan-6-capitol-protests/. Accessed 10 Mar. 2023.

Lonsdorf, Kat, et al. "A Timeline of How the Jan. 6 Attack Unfolded — Including Who Said What and When." NPR, 9 June 2022. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2022/01/05/1069977469/a-timeline-of-how-the-jan-6-attack-unfolded-including-who-said-what-and-when.

Nancy Pelosi Archives | Snopes.Com. https://www.snopes.com/tag/nancy-pelosi/. Accessed 10 Mar. 2023.

"PolitiFact - No, Ray Epps and Nancy Pelosi Did Not Talk on the Phone a Week before Capitol Insurrection." @politifact, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/nov/03/instagram-posts/no-ray-epps-and-nancy-pelosi-did-not-talk-phone-we/. Accessed 10 Mar. 2023.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.