The pro-Trump insurgents who descended on the Capitol building earlier this month got up to a lot of dumb, violent, and almost certainly illegal antics. But this one takes the cake: A capitol rioter allegedly stole a laptop from House Speaker Nancy’s Pelosi’s office to try to pawn it off to the Russian government, according to a federal affidavit filed Sunday.
Riley June Williams, a Pennsylvania woman who is facing several charges related to the siege, was reportedly turned into authorities by a former “romantic partner” who claimed as much. Williams’ ex (identified as W1 in the filing) contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and told them she “intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service,” per the court documents. W1 claimed to have reviewed video of Williams stealing the laptop, which would track given all of the idiots seen giddily livestreaming and snapping selfies during the insurgency.
But apparently, the deal went sour. According to the ex, “the transfer of the computer device to Russia fell through for unknown reasons and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it.”
One reason may be that Williams didn’t nab the goldmine of top-secret intel that she likely thought she did. After the attack on the Capitol, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed on Twitter that Pelosi’s laptop had been stolen from a conference room, but said it was “only used for presentations.”
The suspect and the laptop (or perhaps what remains of it) are apparently still at large, as the affidavit says that “[i]t appears Williams has fled.” Sometime after Jan. 6, she also discontinued her phone number and nuked her social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram, and Parler, the FBI said.
Williams’ mother told local law enforcement officers in Harrisburg that her daughter packed a bag and left home but didn’t offer any details about where she was going, just saying that she’d be gone for a few weeks. Williams’ mother also filed a suspicious report with local police on Jan. 11, the FBI said. The agency added that the person in question “was assumed to be W1.”
The affidavit links to a YouTube video about the Capitol riot produced by ITV News in which a person claiming to be Williams’ mother tells a reporter she recognised her daughter amid footage of the attack. Williams’ mother goes on to claim that her daughter had recently become obsessed with President Donald Trump’s politics and “far-right message boards.” In the video, a woman identified as Williams is seen urging her fellow rioters to follow her upstairs in the direction of Pelosi’s office.
The FBI’s investigation remains ongoing. The affidavit charges Williams with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds based on video evidence, but if these claims about Russian dealings prove true she could be facing even more serious charges.
IT professionals have called the Capitol riots a “nightmare scenario” for cybersecurity as authorities continue to uncover the scope of the fallout. Insurgents ran off with several electronic devices left behind in the scramble to evacuate the building. At least one other computer was identified as being stolen during the attack, a laptop belonging to the office of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, in addition to Pelosi’s.