The FBI is reportedly investigating a theory that a foreign government funded the Capitol riot, with US media strongly implying – as usual – the Kremlin has to be somehow involved. The reported facts, however, tell another story.
The latest excuse for people seeking to blame what happened at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on malign foreign powers came from NBC News on Sunday. The FBI, it reported citing anonymous sources in the agency, is “investigating whether foreign governments, organizations or individuals provided financial support” to the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the seat of the US legislature.
Part of the investigation focuses on “payments of $500,000 in bitcoin” sent “to key figures and groups in the alt-right before the riot,” the report said, before explaining how separately US law enforcement agencies warned that “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition.”
The bitcoin payment in question was reported on January 14 by the blog Chinanalysis and first highlighted by Yahoo News. The cryptocurrency amount of 28.15 BTC, which was worth around $522,000 at the time of its transfer on December 8, was sent to 22 separate addresses, with almost half of it going to Nick Fuentes.
The self-described “American nationalist” was banned from YouTube for violating its hate speech rules and is a vocal supporter of Donald Trump. He was seen at the pro-Trump rally in Washington on the day of the riot, but says he didn’t take part in the violent break-in at the Capitol building that followed it. His rhetoric about the events, however, has been far from condemning, which led to his recent deplatforming by the streaming service DLive.
As reliable as a well-oiled machine, some readers got the cue and blamed the usual suspect – the Kremlin. Of course, it must have been Russia who sponsored the riots through untraceable crypto, called the favored payment method of drug dealers, hitmen and foreign meddlers. And the reported suicide of the French man, who allegedly sent the donations, looks very suspicious, Twitter cried in horror.
Or maybe not. The French newspaper 20 Minutes investigated the transfer and found little in the way of James Bond-esque plots. The donor turned out to be a French conspiracy theorist and alt-right sympathizer, who apparently struggled with health problems before taking his own life on the same day he made the transfer.
He left a suicide message, automated to be published one day after his death, which a relative confirmed to 20 Minutes to be authentic. The post describes his eight-year-long struggle with health issues, including what appears to be severe depression, the French outlet said. He also shared his beliefs about what he called the “decadence of the Western civilization” and other issues of importance to the far-right crowd.
The origin of his considerable bitcoin wealth does not appear to be mysterious at all: the French man mined some of it and purchased the rest in 2013, when the stash cost only about $3,000.
The US media and political circles have been for years obsessed with Russia allegedly being behind every bad thing happening in America – or at least being the prime beneficiary every time. To cite Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with Trump “all roads lead to Putin,” though it’s safe to assume that the outgoing president is not a necessary component to this maxim.
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