‘It’s Just Been Hell:’ Life as the Victim of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory

Up a winding country road, in a trailer park a half-mile from a cattle ranch, lives a man whose life has been ruined by a Jan. 6 conspiracy theory.

Ray Epps has suffered enormously in the past 10 months as right-wing media figures and Republican politicians have baselessly described him as a covert government agent who helped to instigate the attack on the Capitol last year.

Strangers have assailed him as a coward and a traitor and have menacingly cautioned him to sleep with one eye open. He was forced to sell his business and his home in Arizona. Fearing for his safety and uncertain of his future, he and his wife moved into a mobile home in the foothills of the Rockies, with all of their belongings crammed into shipping containers in a high-desert meadow, a mile or two away.

“And for what — lies?” Mr. Epps asked the other day with a look of pained exhaustion. “All of this, it’s just been hell.”

Almost from the moment that a violent mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, allies of former President Donald J. Trump have sought to shift the blame for the attack away from the people who were in the pro-Trump crowd that day to any number of scapegoats.

First they pointed at antifa, the leftist activists who have a history of clashing with Mr. Trump’s backers but who did not show up when the Capitol was breached. Then they tried to fault the F.B.I., which, according to those who spread the baseless tale, planned the attack to provoke a crackdown on conservatives.

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