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Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP) Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)

Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)

Michael Majchrowicz
By Michael Majchrowicz November 3, 2022

No, Ray Epps and Nancy Pelosi did not talk on the phone a week before Capitol insurrection

If Your Time is short

  • Members of Congress and private citizens do not fall under the Freedom of Information Act’s statutory purview. They are exempt.

  • The House Select Committee has said publicly Ray Epps is not an informant, nor did he facilitate the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

  • Pelosi’s spokesperson called the claim false.

An Instagram post is reviving the claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke on the phone with Ray Epps a week ahead of the Capitol insurrection.

"BREAKING: Freedom of Information Act requests show a dozen phone calls between the cell phone of Ray Epps and the office of Speaker Pelosi in the week before #January6th," reads a screenshot of a previously published tweet shared in an Oct. 28 Instagram post.

The post was flagged as part of Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Ray Epps was a Trump supporter living in  Arizona when he traveled to Washington, D.C., ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Videos from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, captured Epps urging others to enter the Capitol "peacefully"and he soon became the subject of far-right conspiracy theory alleging he was a government-protected FBI asset who instigated the riot. 

The narrative has been dismantled numerous times, including during public hearings held by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. Epps had no ties to the FBI or law enforcement and bore no responsibility for orchestrating the event. And there are no federal documents showing he spoke by phone with Pelosi a week before the insurrection.

Featured Fact-check

The image and claim in this Instagram post is a screenshot of a now-deleted tweet that first surfaced in July.

Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, told PolitiFact in an email that the claim was false.

The federal Freedom of Information Act permits members of the public to request records from federal agencies within the executive branch of the federal government. But Congress and the judiciary are not subject to the law.

Although anyone can ask for such records, we find no evidence that such records have been produced — and neither have USA Today, The Associated Press or Lead Stories, all of which have fact-checked this claim since it first surfaced.

Our ruling

An Instagram post claims records produced by a Freedom of Information Act request show Epps and Pelosi spoke on the phone dozens of times in the week leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

A spokesperson for Pelosi told PolitiFact there is no merit to the claims. Further, members of Congress are not subject to FOIA requests.

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Oct. 28, 2022 (archived)

Email interview with Speaker Nancy Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill, Nov. 1, 2022

Freedom of Information Act Division, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "What information is not available under the FOIA?" accessed Nov. 1, 2022

The New York Times, "Jan. 6 Panel Seeks to Debunk Unfounded Theory About F.B.I. Role in Riot," Jan. 11, 2022

The New York Times, "How Ray Epps Became the Victim of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory," July 13, 2022

PolitiFact, "There’s still no evidence that the FBI incited the Jan. 6 riot, despite stories claiming otherwise," Sept. 17, 2021

PolitiFact, "How new Jan. 6 revelations on Ray Epps, others undercut Tucker Carlson’s FBI conspiracy theory," Jan. 18, 2022

Revolver, "Meet Ray Epps: The Fed-Protected Provocateur Who Appears To Have Led The Very First 1/6 Attack On The U.S. Capitol," Oct. 25, 2021 (archived)

Associated Press, "Post spreads baseless claim about Jan. 6 conversations," July 25, 2022

USA Today, "Fact check: Pelosi's office, Ray Epps did not have calls before Jan. 6," Aug. 18, 2022

Lead Stories, "Fact Check: NO Evidence Nancy Pelosi Spoke to Ray Epps Before January 6, 2021," Oct. 31, 2022, "Freedom of Information Act: Learn," accessed Nov. 2, 2022

Congressional Research Service, "The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): A Legal Overview," Aug. 24, 2020

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More by Michael Majchrowicz

No, Ray Epps and Nancy Pelosi did not talk on the phone a week before Capitol insurrection

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