Treasury confirms terms like 'MAGA,' 'Trump,' Kamala,' 'Biden' used in private bank transaction searches

EXCLUSIVE: The Biden administration has confirmed that terms like “MAGA,” “Trump” and “Kamala” were included in the push by federal investigators for banks to surveil private financial transactions following the Jan. 6, 2021 protests at the U.S. Capitol, a letter obtained by Fox News Digital reveals.

The letter, sent Friday from the Treasury Department to Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, notes that “Exchange events” convened by its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, “began shortly after January 6 under the prior Administration,” and “included terms such as ‘antifa,’ ‘MAGA,’ ‘Trump,’ ‘Biden,’ ‘Kamala,’ ‘Schumer,’ and ‘Pelosi.’”

This marks the first time the Biden administration has gone on the record to confirm some of the keywords included in the Jan. 6-related surveillance.


The letter, signed by Acting Assistant Secretary Corey Tellez, comes in response to a letter sent by Scott to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen demanding answers from the Department and FinCEN after revelations of the surveillance using “politically charged search terms” to flag customer profiles to federal law enforcement surfaced.

In his letter, Scott wrote that the surveillance “represents a flagrant violation of Americans’ privacy and the improper targeting of U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights without due process.”

Contrary to Scott’s criticism, he previously voted for the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, which codified the FinCEN Exchange program to facilitate the sharing of data between law enforcement and financial institutions in an effort to combat crimes like money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot

Scene from the Jan. 6 2021 Capitol riot. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Fox News Digital’s exclusive report on the surveillance revealed that FinCEN provided materials to financial institutions instructing them to search and filter Americans’ financial data using keywords and search terms, as well as merchant category codes to aid law enforcement in identifying persons of interest ahead of the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration — weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol protests.

The terms and codes were discovered as part of a House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government investigation. The committees obtained documents indicating that MCC codes were used to query transactions like: “3484: Small Arms,” “5091: Sporting and Recreational Goods and Supplies” and the keywords “Cabela’s,” “Dick’s Sporting Goods” and “Bass Pro Shops,” among others.

The House Judiciary Committee also obtained documents revealing that FinCEN warned financial institutions that an “extremism indicator” could be “the purchase of books (including religious texts),” like the Bible, and subscriptions to certain media “containing extremist views.

Sources familiar told Fox News Digital last month that the search terms, like “MAGA” and “Trump,” were generated by a bank and used to help them identify suspicious transactions when reviewing customer transactional information. It is unclear which bank generated the search terms. 

The sources said FinCEN then shared those terms with other banks to help those financial institutions to comply with their own suspicious activity reports. However, beyond the terms identified by the House Judiciary Committee, the unnamed bank generated other terms, which FinCEN shared with other banks, the sources told Fox News Digital. 


The source said the additional search terms included: “White Power,” “Camp Auschwitz,” “Antifa,” “Proud B,” “Storm, the,” “Capitol,” “Groyper Army,” “Threepers,” “boogaloo,” “civil war,” “last sons,” “kill,” “shoot,” “gun,” “death,” “murder,” “Biden,” “Kamala,” “Pelosi,” “Schumer” and “Pence.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to Scott for comment.

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