The Russian foreign ministry made dozens of money transfers in 2016 with memo lines that read "to finance election campaign of 2016," BuzzFeed News reports. The FBI is now reportedly investigating those transactions, which make up a large part of more than 60 suspicious transfers that totaled over $380,000 and went to Russia's embassies around the world, including in Afghanistan and Washington, D.C.
"We had an election and the intelligence community concluded Russia interfered in it," one FBI agent told BuzzFeed News. "How could we not investigate a suspicious financial transaction that contained a memo that said, 'finance election campaign 2016?' Given the climate and what was in that memo line it would be very irresponsible for us not to investigate. It's a good lead."
It is unclear how the money that was transferred was actually used, or if the "election campaign of 2016" is in fact referencing the U.S. election. "Seven nations had federal elections during the span when the funds were sent — including the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, on Sept. 18, 2016," writes BuzzFeed News. "Russian embassies and diplomatic compounds opened polling stations for voters living abroad."
Still, there is plenty of room for intrigue: An unverified dossier alleging ties between President Trump and Moscow makes reference to Russian diplomatic staff "in key cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami" being rewarded for "relevant assets" with a "'pension' distribution system as cover" that paid out "tens of thousands of dollars," Business Insider's Natasha Bertrand notes. Read the full report, including details of how the memo was discovered, at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange