Riley Williams is a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, woman accused of stealing a laptop or hard drive from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Capitol riots and plotting to sell it to the Russians, according to the FBI.
A complaint affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Jonathan Lund on January 17 says that Riley June Williams “has fled. According to local law enforcement officers in Harrisburg, Williams’ mother stated that Williams packed a bag and left her home and told her mother she would be gone for a couple of weeks.” She also deleted her social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram and Parler, the affidavit says, and changed her phone number “sometime after January 6, 2021.”
She has now been arrested after surrendering on January 18 in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, according to the FBI.
Williams is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
ITV reported that Williams was “wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with an alt-right slogan” during the riots. Her mother told the television station her daughter had become interested in the America First movement. “She’s definitely not a leader,” her mother Wendy Williams told ITV. “I just think, I know there was another woman beside her also doing it, I think she was like ‘they’re letting us up, they’re letting us up, let’s go’. … She’s a 22-year-old who, like I said, she’s very empathetic and loving.”
The criminal complaint paints a more complicit picture of Williams.
Here’s what you know:
1. Williams Took a Recent Interest in ‘President Trump’s Politics’ & ‘Far Right Message Boards’
The complaint affidavit links to the above video, titled, “Revealed: ITV News identifies protester who stormed the Capitol.”
In that video, “the reporter identifies ‘Riley Williams’ as the person depicted in snippets of the prior ITV video,” the affidavit says. “The reporter then interviewed a woman who identified herself as Williams’ mother and showed her some type of video footage. Williams’ mother then stated that she recognized her daughter inside the U.S. Capitol Building and that her daughter had taken a sudden interest in President Trump’s politics and ‘far right message boards.’ She claimed that Williams ‘took off,’ ‘is gone,’ and is waiting for law enforcement to come to Williams and ask her about her activities in the Capitol.”
2. A Former Romantic Partner of Riley Williams Contacted the FBI, the Complaint Says
In the days following the January 6, 2021, riots, a witness “made several phone calls into the FBI’s telephone tip line related to the U.S. Capitol attacks. … In them, the caller stated that he/she was the former romantic partner of Riley June Williams,” according to the affidavit.
The informant said Williams was “depicted in video footage taken on January 6, 2021, from inside the U.S. Capitol Building.” The informant said Williams “can be seen directing crowds inside the U.S. Capitol Building up a staircase.”
The informant directed police to the above YouTube link for the ITV video. The informant “also claimed to have spoken to friends of Williams” who showed the informant a video of Williams “taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Speaker Pelosi’s office.”
3. The Informant Said Williams Planned to Sell the Device to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service
According to the informant, Williams “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.”
The informant told the FBI that “the transfer of the computer device to Russia fell through for unknown reasons and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it. This matter remains under investigation.”
The affidavit says authorities reviewed the YouTube video called “Storming the Capitol: The Inside Story.” At about 20 minutes and 40 seconds into the video, “there appears at the bottom of a staircase the subject, believed to be Williams, a Caucasian female wearing a green t-shirt and brown trench coat and carrying a black-and-white striped zebra-print bag over her shoulders.”
The affidavit adds: “She has brown shoulder length hair and wears eyeglasses. She is wearing a black face mask below her chin, around her neck. She can be heard in the video repeatedly yelling, ‘Upstairs, upstairs, upstairs,’ and can be seen physically directing other intruders to proceed up a staircase. The video also shows a stream of intruders walking up a nearby staircase. Two sample screenshots of that YouTube video appear below.”
4. The Complaint Accuses Williams of Directing ‘Intruders’ Toward Pelosi’s Office
The complaint affidavit says that the officer “confirmed with U.S. Capitol Police that the staircase depicted in the video does, in fact, lead to Speaker Pelosi’s office.”
The affidavit continues:
I have also reviewed maps of the interior areas of the U.S. Capitol and confirmed the subject appears to have been in an area near ‘the crypt,’ sometimes referred to as the ‘Small House Rotunda.’ In the audio of the ITV News video, the reporter states that the recording took place near the U.S. Capitol Building area called ‘the crypt.’ In the background … a bust of Winston Churchill is visible behind the subject, which is also consistent with the location in the ‘Small House Rotunda.’ The maps confirm that there is a nearby staircase, which leads to the office of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
The affidavit adds, “I have reviewed other images the FBI obtained that were taken during the January 6, 2021, civil unrest inside the U.S. Capitol Building. Set forth below is a photograph that also depicts the Williams inside the U.S. Capitol Building, pointing and directing intruders. She is wearing the same green t-shirt and brown trench coat. I believe that the photograph below was taken in Statuary Hall, inside the U.S. Capitol Building.”
5. Williams Went With Her Father to Washington for the Protests
The officer wrote in the complaint about having “spoken with local law enforcement agents in Harrisburg about their recent interactions with Williams parents. According to those officers, on January 11, 2021, local law enforcement received a suspicious persons report filed by Williams’ mother.”
Officers interviewed the mother, who said “the suspicious person was assumed to be” the informant, according to the affidavit.
With officers present, Williams’ mother placed a video call to her daughter. “Officers observed Williams on her mother’s cell phone screen and noted that Williams was wearing a brown-colored jacket, consistent with the screenshots above. According to the Harrisburg officers, on January 16, 2021, they again spoke with Williams’ mother who told them that a British media crew had come to her home the night before, asking to speak with Williams, who was not present,” the affidavit says.
Harrisburg officers called Williams’ father in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, who said “he drove to Washington, D.C., with Williams for the protests on January 6, 2021. He stated that his daughter and he did not stay together throughout the day and that Williams was meeting up with other individuals she knew at the protests. Williams later met up with her father outside of the U.S. Capitol Building, and they returned home to Harrisburg together,” according to the affidavit.