The FBI is investigating the possibility that foreign actors provided financial support to figures involved in the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill, NBC reported Sunday, citing an FBI official and a former FBI official. The FBI has also assessed foreign reactions to the attack from China, Russia and Iran meant to further these countries national interests, according to NBC.
The investigation involves bitcoin payments made approximately one month before the attack to alt-right group figures, according to NBC.
Payments in bitcoin worth more than $500,000 were made to 22 different virtual wallets, most of them belonging to far-right activists and internet personalities, before the storming of the U.S. Capitol, cryptocurrency compliance startup Chainalysis said last week.
The payments, made by a French donor, of 28.15 bitcoins were made on Dec. 8, the New York-based startup, specializing in countering money laundering and fraud in the digital currency space, said in a blog post.
The FBI is also examining foreign actions in the wake of the riot, looking at Chinese, Iranian and Russian actions to advance their interests, NBC said, citing an FBI joint threat assessment issued this week.
Russian actors have “have amplified themes related to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, impeachment of President Trump, and social media censorship,” according to the assessment. These amplifications included “at least one instance [of] a Russian proxy claim[ing] that ANTIFA members disguised themselves as supporters of President Trump, and were responsible for storming the Capitol building,” NBC reported citing the assessment.
“What happened in America showed what a failure Western democracy is … A populist man (Trump) damaged the reputation of his country,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech following the attack.
China drew a comparison between the storming of the US Capitol and last year’s often-violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but noted that no one had died when demonstrators took over the legislature of the China-ruled city. Four people died in the Washington violence, police said.
“We also wish that US people can enjoy peace, stability and security as soon as possible,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily briefing.
The US Justice Department has opened criminal investigations on more than 170 individuals for their involvement in the riot at the US Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters, and investigators aim to charge people with assault and seditious conspiracy, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, DC said last week.
“I think the scope and scale of this investigation and these cases are really unprecedented, not only in FBI history, but probably DOJ history,” Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Four people died on the US Capitol grounds earlier this month, and 52 people have been arrested, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert J. Contee said, after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an unprecedented effort to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.