National Security

FBI investigating if foreign actors funded Capitol rioters: report

The FBI is reportedly investigating if foreign actors funded some of the rioters who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, one current and one former FBI official told NBC News.

The agency is investigating whether foreign governments, organizations or individuals provided funding to those who helped plan the riot, according to the news outlet. As part of the probe, the agency is reportedly examining payments of $500,000 in bitcoin by a French computer programmer before the riot.

The French computer programmer died by suicide shortly after transferring the cryptocurrency, according to french media, NBC News reports. 

Yahoo News first highlighted the bitcoin payments on Thursday. The story was then reported by analysis company Chainanalysis.

On Dec. 8, 28.15 BTC, which was worth $522,000 at the time of transfer, was sent to 22 different virtual wallets, many of which belonged to far-right activists, according to the report.

Most of the money went to far-right podcaster Nick Fuentes, who received 13.5 BTC, according to Chainanalysis’s report, which is worth about $250,000.

Fuentes told ProPublica that he was at the rally but didn’t enter the Capitol with the mob, NBC noted.

Separately, the FBI issued a bulletin earlier this week, with the Department of Homeland Security warning that Russian, Iranian and Chinese influence actors have “seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition,” according to NBC.

The FBI declined to comment. 

The Department of Justice didn’t immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

The report comes as federal law enforcement seeks to track down and charge members of the mob involved in the Jan. 6 riots.

Last week, Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for D.C., said in news conference that officials were treating the investigation “just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation.”

“We’re looking at everything: money, travel records, looking at disposition, movement and communication records,” he said. “So no resource related to the FBI or the U.S. attorney’s office will be unchecked in terms of trying to determine exactly if there was a command and control, how it operated and how they executed these activities.” 

Five people died last week in the riots that temporarily halted Congress’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. More than 100 arrests have been made in connection with the riot in the days since.

Updated 9:01 p.m.

Tags Capitol breach Capitol riot Department of Justice FBI Joe Biden
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