The FBI has launched an investigation to determine if enemy states or foreign organizations may have funded any American rioters or groups that stormed the Capitol, NBC News reported Saturday.
One critical focus is a mysterious $500,000 bitcoin payment apparently from a French national to key extremist figures and organizations before the raid, a current and former FBI official told NBC.
The French computer programmer died by suicide shortly after transferring the cryptocurrency.
Last week Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said at a news conference that officials were treating the investigation into the violence “just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation.”
A threat assessment issued earlier this week by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal and police agencies noted that Russian, Iranian and Chinese actors have already exploited the Capitol attack to push anti-American narratives, noted NBC. That jockeying demonstrates that those foreign governments may have had an interest in helping to foment the attack threatening American democracy to use for their own ends.
Russian media outlets “have amplified themes related to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, impeachment of President Trump, and social media censorship,” noted the threat assessment report.
In a chilling echo of American right-wing media and politicians’ claims, a Russian source falsely claimed that antifa members disguised as Trump supporters were actually “responsible for storming the Capitol building,” according to the report.
The information underscores a frightening melding of Russian interests with American white supremacists that threaten the U.S. government.
There has long been “a mutual affection between Western white supremacists and the Russian government,” academics noted in a study posted on the JustSecurity website.