Bobby Powell thought someone would be interested in his video evidence showing two “suspicious actors” taking part in events on the east side of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
He was in for the surprise of his life.
The semiretired Michigan radio journalist and podcaster has spent the past 16 months trying to get politicians, media personalities, pundits, and the FBI to view his video footage and identify the two “suspicious actors.”
He wants to see those men charged with the destruction of government property and assault.
Almost no one, it seems, wants to listen.
Powell has learned that his video isn’t welcome in many places; some people view it as a threat. In Michigan, he said a politician friend suggested he take a six-figure bribe to keep quiet. When he flatly refused, he says his life was threatened.
The 29 minutes of high-definition video have turned Powell’s life upside down.
In Search of an Audience
As the smoke at the Capitol cleared from the Jan. 6 unrest, Powell began his long quest to find an audience for his video evidence. He was in Washington that day as a credentialed reporter representing his news podcast “The Truth is Viral” and radio station WCHY in Cheboygan, Michigan.
After he called the FBI on Jan. 15, 2021, an agent from the bureau’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) called him back and took his information. He also contacted the U.S. Secret Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
Powell provided the address to his website where agents could view his Jan. 6 videos, and offered to come in for an interview. Even after nearly a half-dozen follow-ups with the FBI and other agencies, there has been no reply from any law enforcement officer.
He also thought photos of the men would eventually appear among the 1,558 individuals on the FBI’s Jan. 6 most-wanted page. That never happened, nor have they been arrested or charged.
“These are two men that are pulling windows out of the Capitol and pushing people inside the doors,” Powell told The Epoch Times. “Okay, so why isn’t the FBI interested? That is the key question.”
“The FBI has no comment on the ongoing Jan. 6 investigation,” the agency’s national press office said in an email in response to an inquiry by The Epoch Times about the video and Powell’s claims.
Meanwhile, Powell has posted a video link to the Twitter page of the U.S. Capitol Police with the question, “Who are these men?”
About five minutes later, his Twitter account was permanently suspended. Twitter didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment about the action.
Google, meanwhile, demonetized his “The Truth is Viral” YouTube page and Facebook took down his live streams and drastically cut the reach of his videos. Powell had been broadcasting on the internet since 2008.
Based on what he says he witnessed on Jan. 6, the grizzled radio veteran and honorably discharged Marine believes the men in the video are FBI or other government agents who were assigned to draw then-President Donald Trump supporters into the Capitol building so they could be arrested.
If proven true, Powell’s allegation would be the latest explosive evidence suggesting that federal agencies played a role in the Capitol riots.
“I’ve been giving speeches in New York, North Carolina, Florida, for the January 6 defendants,” Powell said. “And you know, I flat out come out and say it:
“The FBI led the insurrection of the Capitol.
“I have proof, and, you know, the FBI didn’t want to hear anything about it.”
Defense attorney Brad Geyer sees great value in Powell’s video and its potential exculpatory role for defendants charged with myriad crimes for being at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Bobby Powell presents important visual evidence suggesting facts and context that fall outside the accepted narrative,” Geyer told The Epoch Times, “a narrative upon which seemingly every Washington D.C. constituency seems unanimous: it was 100 percent the fault of the person attending a rally who engaged in a criminal act by entering the Capitol.”
Geyer, who represents Oath Keepers defendant Ken Harrelson, filed a motion on May 6 to compel prosecutors to help him identify 80 “suspicious actors” and “material witnesses.” Most of those on Geyer’s list were located at or near the Columbus Doors on the east side of the Capitol.
Geyer’s motion documents criminal behavior by some of the suspicious actors, such as removing security fencing and signage, breaching police lines, attacking officers, and inciting crowds to storm into the Capitol. Powell’s video is more evidence that adds weight to the argument, he said.
“Let’s forget about the rally being overrun by people who look like inauthentic rally attendees at best who also seem to be ghosts as far as investigative agencies are concerned,” Geyer said.
A Day That Changed Everything
Powell was supposed to retire after his assignment on Jan. 6. He went to Washington to cover then-President Trump’s rally and ended up at the Capitol, documenting the unrest and rioting.
He was on the terrace on the east side of the Capitol, when a 20-year-old California man ran into his field of view. Dressed mostly in black, Hunter Allen Ehmke jumped up on a window sill and started kicking in the glass in the multi-pane window.
After smashing several of the lower panes, Ehmke made a fist and punched the upper glass. Police officers who sprinted into view knocked Ehmke off his perch and swarmed over him on the ground. As Ehmke was placed into handcuffs, a hostile crowd started to gather.
The eight police officers involved in Ehmke’s capture left as quickly as they had arrived. Powell was surprised to find himself guarding the broken window. The scene didn’t sit well with some of the bystanders.
“Does this make any [expletive] sense to y’all? a man with a red beard asked bystanders. “I’m like, this is a [expletive] trap,” the man added in reference to the window.
A man off-camera said, “That is definitely a trap.”
As he picked up glass shards that littered the window sill, Powell heard a voice from behind.
“Why don’t you guys open up the rest of it?”
Powell replied, “Because I think that would probably be illegal.”
The stranger’s dress and demeanor stood out among the protesters passing by the window; he was wearing a black ball cap with an American flag patch. His face was covered with a black and gray striped neck gaiter. He walked onto the east terrace carrying a large white stick. It’s not clear what became of the stick.
He had a radio attached to a strap on the left-center of his chest. On his left chest was a bite valve attached to a hydration pack on his back.
As he pondered what the man was up to, Powell finished toying with the splintered glass.
“I’m just picking up garbage,” he told the man.
To Powell, the man was out of place.
“I knew he was an operator of some kind right away,” he said. “He was no protester. He was there on a mission.”
Powell took a few steps to his left and turned around with his camera rolling, just in time to see the man pull out one of the lower glass panes and drop it on the ground. After the glass came loose, it appears the man realized he was being filmed. He unceremoniously dropped the glass and stepped away, the video shows.
Gavin Crowl ran into the scene and shoved the man in black away from the window. Powell gave Crowl a stern warning to stay away from the window: “Do not go in there!”
As Crowl attempted to walk away, the man in black pursued him and gave him a shove that almost knocked him off his feet. It can’t be heard on the video, but Crowl later said the man shouted at him, “Why are you breaking that window? Who do you think you are? Get out of here!”
Crowl seemed incredulous at being accused of what the man in black had just done. The man shoved Crowl again, then made a fist as if to strike him. Crowl put up his hands in surrender and walked away.
“Obviously, the guy in black was trying to cover his own [expletive] because he had seen my press helmet and the fact that I was pointing the camera right at him,” Powell said.
“So he didn’t know how long I had been recording,” Powell said. “He was just trying to cover his own butt. And then the guy leaves. He just leaves. Never to be seen again.
“I’ve watched surveillance footage; he just melts off into the crowd and I can’t see him anymore.”
Second Suspicious Actor Acted as Doorman
Powell moved over to the nearby Columbus Doors, where a large, rambunctious crowd was trying to get into the Capitol Rotunda. He saw about a dozen men come running out or being shoved out of the entrance by police.
Some of the men had been maced. Clouds of tear gas streamed out of the entry.
As Powell moved to the front line, a man who was holding the doors open used his right arm to shove Powell toward the entrance.
“Hold the line!” the man shouted. Someone else screamed, “Hold the line!”
Like the first suspicious actor, this man had a calm demeanor and a military efficiency about him, according to Powell. He wore a green fleece zip-up jacket, a brown checkered neck gaiter, a camo-pattern cap, and dark sunglasses. His gloves had bright lime-green tape on them. To Powell, he looked out of place.
Powell apparently didn’t notice, but the first suspicious actor who broke the glass was directly in front of him, crouched down behind another man. To his right was Matthew Perna of Sharon, Pennsylvania, who—after becoming distraught over being threatened with years in prison for being at the Capitol on Jan. 6—committed suicide nearly 14 months later.
An Uphill Battle
Powell estimates he has spent more than $20,000 over 16 months trying to get his story out. He spoke to producers of some of the biggest names in broadcast news, including one who told him flat-out they weren’t interested in a story about alleged government agents attacking the Capitol.
Powell has a podcast and publishes news on Substack, but the loss of revenue from YouTube struck a heavy blow. Days after he appeared on a Newsmax program, PayPal shut down his donation account. Since then, he has turned to GiveSendGo to help support his efforts.
“I called PayPal and spoke to a supervisor who told me they could find no policy I had violated, just that my account was marked, ‘Do Not Reinstate,’” he said.
Due to the loss of income, Powell sold his home to avoid foreclosure.
“So they’ve taken away all my sources of income except for my social security disability,” he said. “So I had to sell my house.”
He feels the weight and stress of Jan. 6.
“I was gonna pack in my microphone and go fishing. Boy, here it is 16 months later, and I am still going,” Powell said. “I’ve had four heart attacks in 16 months, the last one damn near killed me. If I hadn’t been in the ER when it happened, it would have.”
In early May, Powell hand-delivered a memory stick with his videos to Trump attorney Peter Ticktin. The attorney had put out a statement asking the public to submit January 6 video footage.
“I’m gonna see—I guess the entire country is going to see—how well they will be able to ignore it, now that I’ve given a video to [former] President Trump.”