In a significant report by the House Judiciary Committee, it has come to light that federal investigators directed banks to scrutinize customer transactions by specifically searching for terms like “MAGA” and “Trump.”
The initiative was a part of an investigation linked to the events of January 6. The committee, under the leadership of Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), has unearthed documents indicating that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) had advised financial institutions to monitor for signs of so-called “extremism.”
These signs included transactions for religious texts, unexplained travel expenses, and purchases from retailers such as: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s, and Bass Pro Shops.
Read more: pic.twitter.com/ZT47BpW0bc
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 17, 2024
“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,’” Jordan wrote in a correspondence to Noah Bishoff, the ex-director of FinCEN and a long-time employee.
“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 asserted.
Shop at Bass Pro Shop recently?
How about Cabela’s?
Bought a bible?
If so, the federal government may be coming after YOU. https://t.co/NNRZboXRDr
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) January 17, 2024
A source knowledgeable on the matter informed Fox News Digital, “the effort by FinCEN to work with law enforcement to assist with their post January 6 efforts began under the previous administration.” The source also revealed that the federal government employed this data for probes extending beyond Jan. 6.
“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,” wrote Jordan.
“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.”
Furthermore, Jordan requested Bishoff to get in touch with the committee to arrange a transcribed interview by Jan. 31. In response to this situation, Bishoff did not provide any comment when approached by Fox News.
Jordan claimed that when a specific list came to the FBI’s notice, Steve Jensen, the then-section chief of the Domestic Terrorism Operations Section, decided to “pull” that Bank of America information from FBI systems. The reason for this action, according to Jordan, was that “the leads lacked allegations of federal criminal conduct.”
Jordan disclosed that the committees had secured documents demonstrating that FBI staff, including Sullivan, engaged with Bank of America, providing them with specific search query terms.
These terms indicated an FBI interest in “all financial relationships” of Bank of America customers who had transactions in Washington D.C., those who had made “ANY historical purchase” of firearms, or those who had bought hotel accommodations, Airbnb stays, or airline tickets within a certain date range.
Additionally, Jordan revealed that the committees had obtained documents showing that FBI personnel in the Office of Private Sector had compiled an official report. This broadly labeled certain political beliefs as potential signs of domestic violent extremism.
The Treasury Department has not commented on these findings. However, it was noted that this surveillance initiative began under the previous administration.
The committee has now called for a transcribed interview with Noah Bishoff, the former director of FinCEN, and Peter Sullivan from the FBI, to delve deeper into these surveillance practices and their implications.