Federal law enforcement instructed financial institutions to use search terms such as “MAGA” and “Trump” when searching private transactions, Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said Wednesday.
Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Select Subcommittee on Weaponization, wrote a letter describing how the federal government flagged terms like “MAGA” and “Trump” to see if those phrases were used by Americans when they conducted financial transactions following the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.
The letter is addressed to Noah Bishoff, former Director of the Office of Stakeholder Integration and Engagement in the Strategic Operations Division of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The letter was first reported by Fox News.
READ THE LETTER:
“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’s letter reads.
“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.’ 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 to areas with no apparent purpose,’ or ‘the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.’”
Jordan’s letter attaches a slide prepared by FinCEN for financial institutions with key words like “Dick’s Sporting Goods” and “Cabela’s,” referring to the sporting goods retail chains. The MCCs on the slide classifying the type of goods to search for include codes for sporting and recreational goods, pawn shops, sporting goods stores and specialty retailers.
“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 civil liberties,” Jordan’s letter adds.
Jordan wrote a similar letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray because of the FBI’s alleged communications with Bank of America related to specific search terms necessary to track down individuals who made financial transactions in the Washington, D.C., area between Jan. 5-7, 2021.
Jordan is seeking transcribed interviews with Bishoff and senior FBI official Peter Sullivan, an official inside the bureau’s strategic partnership engagement section.
Jordan is requesting the interviews be scheduled by Jan. 31.