Ray Epps, in the red Trump hat, center, gestures to others as people gather on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021.
Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Fox News was sued for defamation Wednesday by self-described Donald Trump supporter Ray Epps for “spreading falsehoods” that Epps was an undercover FBI agent who was responsible for encouraging a mob of Trump backers that invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The suit by the Arizona resident Epps was filed nearly three months after Fox News’ corporate parent agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787.5 million to settle that company’s defamation lawsuit accusing Fox Corp. of making false claims about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
The suit by Epps, a former U.S. Marine, said that as Fox recently learned in the Dominion case, “its lies have consequences.”
The suit accuses former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who was fired on the heels of the Dominion settlement, of being the primary promoter of the false conspiracy theory about Epps. He was among the throng of supporters of then-President Trump who gathered outside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Epps and other Trump backers believed false claims by Trump and his allies that the 2020 presidential election had been rigged in favor of President Joe Biden. A joint session of Congress was set to confirm Biden’s victory that day.
“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,” said Epps’ complaint, filed in the same Delaware Superior Court where Dominion sued.
“Eventually, they turned on one of their own, telling a fantastical story in which Ray Epps — who was a Trump supporter that participated in the protests on January 6th — was an undercover FBI agent and was responsible for the mob that violently broke into the Capitol and interfered with the peaceful transition of power for the first time in this country’s history,” the suit said.
Epps in his complaint said Fox News’ “lies have destroyed” his and his wife Robyn’s lives.
The suit also said that in May, the U.S. Department of Justice notified Epps “that it would seek to charge him criminally for events on January 6, 2021— two-and-a-half years later.”
“The relentless attacks by Fox and Mr. Carlson and the resulting political pressure likely resulted in the criminal charges,” the complaint said.
“Although it is difficult to believe that the Department of Justice would have pursued this matter if Fox had not focused its lies on Epps, ultimately the criminal charges conclusively demonstrate the falsehood of the story that Mr. Carlson and Fox told about Epps,” it continued.
“Epps was not a federal agent. He was a loyal Fox viewer and Trump supporter,” the suit said.
Fox News on Wednesday sought to have Epps’ lawsuit transferred to U.S. District Court in Delaware.
A Fox spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
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