GOP lawmaker: FBI told me Russia contributed to last year’s violence at Charlottesville rally
Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) on Saturday said FBI Director Christopher Wray told him Russian hackers contributed to “fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville.”
“I sat in a closed session briefing probably two months ago about Charlottesville with the director of the FBI, amongst others, and asked if Russian inter-meddling had to do with fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville,” Garett, a member of the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, said on CNN’s “Newsroom.”
“I was told yes, it did,” Garett said.
Garett has made similar comments linking last year’s violent clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, to “foreign influence,” but this is the first time he has attributed those claims to the FBI.
The FBI did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Last year’s “Unite the Right” rally turned deadly in Charlottesville when a man with alleged neo-Nazi ties drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing local resident Heather Heyer. A black man named DeAndre Harris was also brutally beaten by white supremacists in a parking garage.
White nationalist groups and counter-protesters are staging similar dueling protests on Sunday in Washington, D.C., marking a year since the Charlottesville rally.
The Wall Street Journal in October reported that Facebook groups with ties to Russia posted racially divisive messages ahead of Charlottesville.
Facebook and Instagram ads purchased by Russian hackers to influence the 2016 elections revealed that the operatives often exacerbated U.S. racial divisions to sow discord, according to House Intelligence Committee documents released in May.
“[Russia uses] events like this divisive racial fight … and this is the sort of thing they do,” Garett said Saturday.