Photo: AP

Press Secretary Sean Spicer had a tough day today. If you listen to the feckless mainstream media, he ran from the White House press corps this afternoon in order to avoid questions about bizarre interviews Trump has been giving. But, if you listen to the #russiagate sleuths, he ran because the lid had been blown off of his bitcoin conspiracy.

Back in January, Spicer was widely ridiculed for tweeting and quickly deleting two strings of characters that looked like they might be a password. Because Spicer is such a bumbling joke, the press shrugged and moved on. Until yesterday, that is. Conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch’s blog Patribotics ran a story by Laurelai Bailey that asserted the characters weren’t a password but a “bitcoin address.” Or, at least that’s what the headline said, the body of the post used the term, “identity confirmation code.”

Bailey found the text of one of the tweets (n9y25ah7) was actually connected to a bitcoin transaction that occurred on the same day that Spicer sent out his non-sensical second tweet. She found that an account numbered 19FkmhHEzgCXKfALXhahuCTDVcRnxT41MK sent $1.13 worth of bitcoin to an account numbered 1MNDjuPfXt3B66cWPaC17qFLkwd3usufT5 on January 26th. If you’re like me, as soon as you saw those long strings of numbers you zoned out and you’d pretty much believe anything anyone said about the transaction.

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Here’s what Bailey believes this means:

The money came to the sending account 3 days before, for the exact sum of 1.14 USD at the time of this writing, .01 USD was used for the transaction itself.

So Sean Spicer bought something with bitcoin, as himself. He wanted the people selling to him to know exactly who he was. It was probably some kind of verification code.

What he was buying with the bitcoin is anyone’s guess at this point. The low amount of money involved makes it seem extra strange. The address that received the bitcoin to also gained 3 more payments on march 3rd, very large payments. Over $22,000 dollars worth.

Bitcoin is confusing as heck, but this seems weird at the very least. Luckily, some people who understand bitcoin have taken to their blogs to clarify what’s going on here.

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Jimmy Song and Christopher Bouzy both have histories with bitcoin development and regularly write about cryptocurrency. They separately wrote up posts with the same explanation following the publication of Bailey’s theory. I’d say Song’s write up is the clearest. He starts by explaining that the page that Bailey is pointing to which contains the cryptic text from Spicer’s tweet is a service called Bitsig. You can read about how Bitsig works right here, but in a nutshell, it’s a service that allows you to timestamp data utilizing the bitcoin block chain. Song explains:

The purpose of Bitsig is simply to record some data and prove that such data existed at a certain point in time. They do this a little differently than proofofexistence.com by utilizing brain wallets. Essentially, they take a string, do some deterministic process on it to generate a private key. That private key then can generate a Bitcoin address which anyone can send money to. The company sweeps the money out of the address afterward.

The most important thing to understand is that Bitsig is a service that allows you to use bitcoin to record a timestamp. In this case, someone wanted to record a timestamp for the characters “n9y25ah7.” The thing is, the timestamp on this Bitsig record was 21:57:19 UTC or 5:57pm EST. Spicer’s tweet went out at 8:42am that day and quickly went viral. The point is that this was most likely someone having a laugh or trying to create some sort of false evidence or god knows what. As Song puts it, “Bailey’s analysis is akin to finding that someone played last night’s winning lottery numbers today and extracting meaning from it.” Just to prove that anyone could do this, Bouzy recreated the transaction himself yesterday with the same characters. It’s also worth noting that there is no Bitsig record for “Aqenbpuu,” Spicer’s other random tweet.

So, yeah, the bitcoin lead is probably nothing and we’ll probably never know what that whole butt dial tweet thing really was. Personally, I like a good conspiracy theory, but this one’s so simple that people might believe it and complicated to the point that they wouldn’t understand it. The theory is already picking up and others are hot on the trail of this mystery. Check out this PDF I found that follows the bitcoin address that sent the Spicer tweet string through numerous other transactions and accounts. It basically plays six degrees of separation until it lands on an account that has received $5 billion.

The real question is, is it just a coincidence that all of this went down two days after someone created a website that lets you send Sean Spicer Dippin’ Dots and pay with bitcoin?

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[Patribotics, Christopher Bouzy, Jimmy Song]