If you’re on Twitter right now, you’re likely reading about the bombshell BuzzFeed News report that the Russian foreign ministry reportedly wired more than $380,000 to many of its embassies via Citibank accounts using the memo line “to finance election campaign of 2016.” Some of the money was reportedly sent to its embassy in Washington, D.C. at the height of last year’s presidential election. According to the report, “At least one transaction that came into the U.S. originated with VTB Bank, a financial institution that is majority-owned by the Kremlin.” The FBI is now looking into these wires as it investigates Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Crazy stuff, right? But if you read further down to the seventh paragraph, there’s a telling sentence: “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. Russian embassies and diplomatic compounds opened polling stations for voters living abroad.” Which is to say, it’s possible that Russia was sending money to its embassies to fund its own voting efforts.
There’s a pretty heated conversation on Twitter about whether or not that explanation should have, perhaps, been further up in the story.
It’s OK to spike the piece when you get the explanation for why it’s not newsworthy pic.twitter.com/piyMzlTuOl
— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) November 14, 2017
BuzzFeed’s response is that the story isn’t just that the transactions happened, but that federal agencies are scrutinizing them:
the story is that the FBI is investigating these payments as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. not BuzzFeed–the FBI. if you don’t want to know about official action the government is taking, feel free to move on
— Matt Mittenthal (@mattmittenthal) November 14, 2017
You can read the full BuzzFeed News piece here.