Feds Ask Banks To Search Transactions for ‘MAGA’

Donald Trump in a "MAGA" hat | Image by Christian David Cooksey/Shutterstock

Federal agents asked banks to identify customer transactions that included terms such as ‘MAGA’ and ‘Trump’ as a part of their January 6 investigation, a recent report reveals.

The House Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government made the revelations Wednesday in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital. The details were uncovered through the committee’s review of federal law enforcement’s “receipt of information about American citizens without legal process and its engagement with the private sector.” 

The documents regard the Treasury Department’s Office of Stakeholder Integration and Engagement in the Strategic Operations of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). 

FinCEN sent materials to banks that described “typologies” of “various persons of interest.” This included “suggested search terms and Merchant Category Codes for identifying transactions on behalf of federal law enforcement,” as reported by Fox News. 

One document recommended filters such as “Trump” and “MAGA” to “search Zelle payment messages.” It also cited “prior FinCEN analysis” of “Lone Actor/Homegrown Violent Extremism Indicators.” 

“According to this analysis, FinCEN warned financial institutions of ‘extremism’ indicators that include ‘transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel areas with no apparent purpose,’ or ‘the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views,’” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote in a letter to Noah Bishoff, the former director of FinCEN, per Fox News.

“In other words, FinCEN used large financial institutions to comb through the private transactions of their customers for suspicious charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression,” Jordan summarized.

Jordan said documents obtained by his committee showed FinCEN worked with banks on ways to identify customers whose transactions reveal “potential active shooters, and who may include dangerous International Terrorists/ Domestic Terrorists/ Homegrown Violence Extremists (‘Lone Wolves’).”

Federal investigators also requested banks look for transactions with companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s, and Bass Pro Shops, as well as “small arms” and “sporting and recreational goods and supplies,” Jordan said. 

He demanded Bishoff appear for a transcribed interview with the committee, arguing the official may “possess information necessary for our oversight.” 

“Despite these transactions having no apparent criminal nexus — and, in fact, relate to Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights — FinCEN seems to have adopted a characterization of these Americans as potential threat actors,” Jordan wrote. “This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with and at the request of federal law enforcement, into Americans’ private transactions is alarming and raises serious doubts about FinCEN’s respect for fundamental liberties.”

This federal investigation also extends to the FBI, to which Jordan wrote a separate letter. According to Jordan, the committee heard testimony that the agency had received a list of transactions made in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area between January 5 and January 7, 2021, from Bank of America “voluntarily and without any legal process.”

“We have cooperated with the committee as they evaluate whether the laws we complied with should be changed,” Bank of America previously told Fox News Digital.

Jordan said documents obtained by his committee showed the FBI contacted Bank of America asking for customers in Washington, D.C., who had “ANY historical purchase” of firearms, hotels, Airbnbs, or airline travel from a specific date range.

According to testimony received by the committee, when the FBI was asked about the Bank of America data it obtained, the agency moved to “pull” this information from its systems because “the leads lacked allegations of federal criminal conduct,” Jordan wrote.

Jordan added that documents indicated the FBI’s Office of Private Sector “prepared an official report that broadly characterized certain political beliefs as indicative of domestic violent extremism.” He requested a transcribed interview with the senior official in the Strategic Partner Engagement Section of the FBI.

The interview “will help to inform the Committee and Select Subcommittee about the FBI’s mass accumulation and use of Americans’ private information without legal process; the FBI’s protocols, if any, to safeguard Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights in the receipt and use of such information; and the FBI’s general engagement with the private sector on law-enforcement matters,” the Judiciary Committee chairman explained.

This is not the first time questions have arisen about potential overreach and even aggression by the FBI in the quest to root out participants in the Capitol protests on January 6, as The Dallas Express has reported. The agency wielded a vast dragnet of phone location data to issue sweeping “geofence” arrest warrants for people who were in and around the U.S. Capitol that day. Recently, FBI officials made clear the agency’s intentions to push the envelope even further by using such location data to arrest even peaceful protesters.

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