Yellen avoids answering questions about bank records searches for MAGA supporters

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen evaded multiple queries from GOP lawmakers this week regarding her department’s monitoring of Americans’ bank records after Jan. 6, 2021.

Recently, the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government uncovered that federal investigators at the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) directed banks to inspect customer transactions for keywords such as “MAGA” and “Trump.”

The federal government was surveilling supporters of former President Donald Trump and Americans who made purchases at stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, and Cabela’s, as well as those who bought religious books, such as the Bible.

The report sparked strong criticism, with Republicans demanding answers from the Biden administration concerning the violation of conservative Americans’ civil liberties.

Yellen faced tough questioning from GOP lawmakers in both chambers during two appearances on Capitol Hill this week regarding her department’s search requests.

During a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Thursday, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., criticized the secretary for the surveillance directives.

“FinCEN was created to stop money laundering and not to spy on Americans,” Scott said, according to the Daily Mail. “It was not created for political motivations.”

After being questioned by Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., about the spying, Yellen claimed that it occurred before she took office and said she would investigate.

“I will get back to you with more detailed information when I’ve had a chance to study this thoroughly,” she reportedly told Hagerty.

At a House hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., pressed Yellen for an answer about whether Americans’ purchasing data was surveilled by her department.

“Has Treasury … instructed financial institutions to search Americans’ legal transactions in attempts to surveil their purchases?” Wagner asked Yellen.

“Well, we received a letter from you, I believe, on this topic; and we intend to investigate fully,” Yellen replied.

Wagner asked again: “Are they instructing financial institutions to search Americans’ legal transactions in attempts to surveil their purchases?”

“I promise a thorough look into everything,” Yellen said.

“This is really concerning, and I would hope you get to it just as quickly as possible, Madam Secretary,” Wagner said, concluding the exchange.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan’s January report revealed that the Treasury Department also suggested that banks search for the terms “MAGA” and “Trump” in Zelle payments.

“Did you shop at Bass Pro Shop yesterday or purchase a Bible?” Jordan posted on X at the time. “If so, the federal government may be watching you.”

In another post he wrote, “We now know the federal government flagged terms like ‘MAGA’ and ‘TRUMP,’ to financial institutions if Americans completed transactions using those terms. What was also flagged? If you bought a religious text, like a BIBLE, or shopped at Bass Pro Shop.”

According to documents the Treasury provided to banks, purchasing a bus or a plane ticket “for travel to areas with no apparent purpose” and subscribing to “extremist” news outlets would also warrant further scrutiny.

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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