Biden Administration Confirms Using Terms Like 'Trump,' 'MAGA,' and 'Kamala' in Private Bank Transaction Searches

By Jace Dela Cruz

Feb 10, 2024 05:48 AM EST

The Biden administration has acknowledged that terms such as "MAGA," "Trump," and "Kamala" were among those flagged for scrutiny in the government's call for banks to monitor private financial transactions after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. 

(Photo : MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US President Joe Biden answers questions about Israel after speaking about the Special Counsel report in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 8, 2024 in a surprise last-minute addition to his schedule for the day.

Terms Like 'MAGA,' 'Trump,' Kamala,' 'Biden' Used in Private Bank Transaction Searches

According to Fox News, a letter from the Treasury Department sent on Friday to Senator Tim Scott, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, revealed that "exchange events" organized by its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) started shortly after the January 6 Capitol attack under the Trump administration and included terms such as "antifa," "MAGA," "Trump," "Biden," "Kamala," "Pelosi," and "Schumer." 

This is the first public confirmation by the Biden administration regarding the use of specific keywords to surveil private financial transactions after the Capitol insurrection. FinCEN collects and analyzes financial transaction information to combat domestic and international financial crimes. 

The letter, signed by Acting Assistant Secretary Corey Tellez, was prompted by Scott's inquiry to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen seeking clarification on using "politically charged search terms" in surveilling customer profiles without due process.

In his letter, Scott said the surveillance represents "flagrant violation" of privacy and "improper targeting of US citizens for exercising their constitutional rights without due process."

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Merchant Codes Used to Fight Financial Crimes

The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, supported by Scott, established the FinCEN Exchange program for enhanced data sharing between law enforcement and financial institutions to fight money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.

The Fox News Digital report on the surveillance revealed that FinCEN provided materials to financial institutions suggesting they search and filter US financial data using keywords and search terms, as well as merchant category codes, to flag suspicious transactions or identify persons of interest before the January 20, 2021 inauguration or weeks after the Capitol attack.

An investigation by the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government led to the discovery of the terms and codes.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Fox News Digital reported last month that search terms, like "MAGA" and "Trump," were produced by an unnamed bank and used to help them determine suspicious transactions when reviewing customer transactional information. 

The insiders said FinCEN then shared those terms with other banks to help them comply with their own suspicious activity reports. 

Aside from the terms identified by the House Judiciary Committee, the sources told Fox News Digital that the unnamed bank also generated other terms such as "Biden," "Kamala," "Pelosi," "Schumer," "Pence," "White Power," "Camp Auschwitz," "Antifa," "Proud B," "Storm, the," "Capitol," "Groyper Army," "Threepers," "boogaloo," "civil war," "shoot," "gun," "death," "last sons," "kill," and "murder," which FinCEN shared with other banks.

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