Senator Tim Scott Presses White House On Why It Flagged Trump And MAGA Transactions

By Victor Winston, updated on January 22, 2024

In a recent development, Senator Tim Scott has raised questions regarding the Treasury Department's handling of financial transaction data about the January 6 riot. This move comes amid concerns about potential privacy violations and the targeting of specific political affiliations.

Senator Tim Scott sent a detailed letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, questioning the reported surveillance of transactions flagged with terms like "TRUMP" or "MAGA".

The inquiry stems from a report that under the guidance of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), federal officials instructed banks to turn over customer data. This data was flagged based on terms associated with former President Donald Trump and the Make America Great Again movement. The concern centers around whether this constituted an infringement of privacy rights and the improper targeting of U.S. citizens.

Expanding the Scope of Financial Surveillance

Additional instructions to banks included monitoring transactions involving the purchase of religious texts and goods from outdoor sporting stores. This broadening of surveillance criteria raises questions about the criteria used to identify potential threats and the implications for ordinary citizens' financial privacy.

Senator Scott's letter to Secretary Yellen also sought clarification on the Treasury's role in this data collection. He questioned whether the department was acting independently or under direction from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Historical Precedents and Current Concerns

The letter references the Obama-era initiative, Operation Choke Point. This operation involved DOJ coordination with regulators to deny services to lawful businesses based on ideological opposition. Senator Scott drew parallels between this and the current situation, suggesting a pattern of financial surveillance and targeting based on political and ideological lines.

Senator Scott expressed in his letter: "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."

In response to Senator Scott's concerns, the letter poses direct questions about the rationale behind monitoring purchases of religious texts and sporting goods. These categories, traditionally unrelated to extremist activities, have led to concerns about the criteria used for surveillance and the potential for overreach.

Timeline of Events and Actions

The timeline of these events began with the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Following this, FinCEN reportedly asked banks to assist in identifying transactions related to the riot using specific typologies and Merchant Category Codes. Documentation emerged on January 20, indicating that federal officials had instructed banks to flag transactions with specific terms. Senator Scott's letter, dated January 26, represents the latest development in this ongoing story.

Senator Scott's inquiry is about the events of January 6 and the broader implications of government surveillance. He questions the balance between national security and the protection of civil liberties. This includes the right to privacy and freedom from undue governmental intrusion into citizens' financial transactions.

Seeking Answers and Ensuring Accountability

Senator Scott's letter is an attempt to seek transparency and accountability from the Treasury Department. It represents a call for clarity on the government's role in monitoring financial transactions and the criteria used for such surveillance.

The questions raised by Senator Scott touch upon fundamental issues of privacy, freedom of expression, and the potential misuse of government power. These concerns resonate with a broad spectrum of the American public, cutting across political affiliations and ideologies.

Conclusion

Senator Tim Scott's inquiry into the Treasury Department's handling of financial transaction data post-January 6 riot raises significant concerns. These include potential privacy violations, targeting specific political affiliations, and the broader implications of governmental surveillance on civil liberties. As the story unfolds, the answers provided by the Treasury Department will be crucial in addressing these concerns and ensuring the protection of constitutional rights.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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