The FBI is searching for a 22-year-old woman who joined the pro-Trump attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, after receiving a tip that she might be trying to sell Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi‘s stolen laptop to Russian intelligence.
Pelosi’s laptop has been missing since Jan. 6, when U.S. President Donald Trump incited a mob to storm the Capitol with false claims about the election he lost.
Riley June Williams, of Harrisburg, Pa., has been charged with illegally entering the U.S. Capitol and disorderly conduct in connection with the riot, which left five people dead.
The FBI alleges that Williams played a key role in leading the mob to Pelosi’s office, according to documents filed in court Sunday. It also raised the possibility that she may have snatched Pelosi’s laptop or hard drive, although authorities have not charged her with doing so at this point.
Investigators say they received a tip from someone claiming to be Williams’ former partner, who said she planned to ship the laptop to a friend so they could sell it to Russian intelligence agents. The tipster said that plan likely fell through and she either destroyed the device or still has it.
Thousands of Trump supporters — including white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Proud Boys and believers in the radical QAnon hoax — stormed the building in the attack, overrunning its defences and running rampant inside its halls.
Some even broke into Pelosi’s office and posed for photos inside.
Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed Jan. 8 that a laptop was taken during the riot but said “it was a laptop that was only used for presentations.”
The FBI says Williams has changed her phone number, deleted her social media accounts and left her home. Her whereabouts were unknown on Monday afternoon.
Williams’ mother told reporters that her daughter had recently become interested in Trump and “far-right message boards.” She told police that her daughter had packed a bag and fled for what she said would be a couple of weeks.
William’s father said he’d travelled to Washington, D.C. with his daughter on the day of the riot but the two did not stay together, the FBI said.
Video recorded by ITV during the protest shows a woman in green, whom the broadcaster identified as Williams, directing the mob through the halls of the Capitol.
Others have shared footage of the same woman outside the building with a heavy package in her purse.
The FBI cited both videos in its case against Williams.
The videos are just a small part of the vast amount of evidence the FBI has been poring over since the riots. Much of the footage was recorded by the rioters themselves and posted on social media.
Social media users have been helping to identify the rioters, at the FBI’s request.
Many of those who mugged for the cameras, including the man with his feet on Pelosi’s desk, have since been charged as part of a sweeping investigation into the riot.
Trump has since been impeached for a second time for his role in inciting the attack, which failed to overturn the democratic election result.
Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the president of the United States on Wednesday.
— With files from The Associated Press