Tuesday 23 January 2024

Tim Scott Presses Treasury Secretary Over Flagging Of ‘Trump,’ ‘MAGA’ Transactions

 Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) pressed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday over a report that said federal officials instructed banks to turn over customer data of transactions flagged with terms like “TRUMP” or “MAGA.”

Scott’s letter came after documents obtained by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government showed that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) had flagged the terms as part of its investigation related to the January 6 riot. Banks were also told to look at transactions involving the purchase of religious texts and outdoor sporting goods stores like Cabela’s. 

“These allegations, if true, represent a flagrant violation of Americans’ privacy and the improper targeting of U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights without due process,” Scott, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, wrote

FinCEN reportedly asked banks to help federal law enforcement identify transactions of persons of interest using specific typologies and Merchant Category Codes after January 6, 2021. The letter was also sent to FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki.

In the letter, Scott asked Yellen if the Treasury Department had any role in soliciting private financial data from the banks and whether it was directed to do so by the FBI or the Justice Department. Scott also asked Yellen about what religious texts were seen as indicative of extremism and why sporting goods store shoppers were targeted in the federal investigation. 


“These allegations are particularly concerning given past efforts to weaponize the financial system and payment activity against politically disfavored, lawful activity. Under the Obama- administration’s ‘Operation Choke Point’ initiative, the Department of Justice (DOJ) coordinated with federal financial regulators to intimidate financial institutions into denying services to legitimate businesses that the administration was ideologically opposed to, including gun retailers,” Scott said. 

On Thursday, House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan requested an interviewwith Noah Bishoff, the former director of the Office of Stakeholder Integration and Engagement in the Strategic Operations Division of FinCEN, to discuss the report. 

The letter asks Bishoff to be prepared to speak to lawmakers about what safeguards FinCEN has in place to safeguard constitutional liberties, the government’s use of private financial information, and coordination between FinCEN and the private sector.

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