The federal government engaged in systemic financial surveillance of U.S. citizens who supported former Republican President Donald Trump, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) alleged in a bombshell report from the House Judiciary Committee.
Documents obtained by the committee, which Rep. Jordan chairs, showed that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) flagged transaction involving the terms “MAGA” and “TRUMP” as indicative of a proclivity for domestic terrorism.
“The Committee and Select Subcommittee have obtained documents indicating that following January 6, 2021, FinCEN distributed materials to financial institutions that, among other things, outline the “typologies” of various persons of interest and provide financial institutions with suggested search terms and Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) for identifying transactions on behalf of federal law enforcement,” Jordan wrote, in a letter to Noah Bishoff, FinCEN’s former Director of the Office of Stakeholder Integration and Engagement in the Strategic Operations Division.
These materials included a document recommending the use of generic terms like “TRUMP” and “MAGA” to “search Zelle payment messages” as well as a “prior FinCEN analysis” of “Lone Actor/Homegrown Violent Extremism Indicators,” Jordan wrote.
FinCEN advised financial institutions to conduct additional monitoring of any U.S. citizens who bought, for example, a MAGA hat or Trump campaign materials.
“FinCEN warned financial institutions of “extremism” indicators that include “transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel to areas with no apparent purpose,” or “the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views,” Jordan wrote.
FinCEN is a U.S. Treasury Department sub-agency tasked with combating terrorism and money laundering.
According to Jordan, the federal government flagged transactions at Bass Pro Shops or purchases of Bibles and other religious texts.
“In other words, FinCEN urged 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 said.
We now know the federal government flagged terms like “MAGA” and “TRUMP,” to financial institutions if Americans completed transactions using those terms.— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 17, 2024
What was also flagged? If you bought a religious text, like a BIBLE, or shopped at Bass Pro Shop. pic.twitter.com/jjRaVNItWz
The committee also obtained documents that showed FinCEN distributed slides that implied that MCC codes for “Small Arms” and “Sporting and Recreational Goods and Supplies” as well as the keywords “Cabela’s and “Dick’s Sporting Goods” made transactions suspicious for domestic terrorism or “potential active shooters”.
One presentation slide made public by the committee comes from Key Bank and shows a long list of legal businesses whose customers were subject to warrantless financial surveillance.
The letter requested that Bishoff appear for an interview with the Committee regarding FinCEN’s behavior.
Bishoff, who ran the warrantless surveillance program for FinCEN during the time period in question, is now in charge of the anti-money laundering program for Plaid, a tech company that integrates most U.S. banks with other applications and services.