House Uncovers Troubling Scandal, Collusion With Feds
Republican lawmakers are expanding an investigation into banks allegedly voluntarily providing customers' private financial data to the FBI around the time of the January 6 riot at the Capitol, the GOP's House Judiciary Committee announced Monday.
The letters, dated June 12, were sent to the CEOs of six U.S. financial institutions: JPMorgan Chase & Company, Citigroup, Truist Financial Corporation, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, and PNC Financial Services, requesting documents related to communications with federal law enforcement agencies concerning the use of their products, such as debit and credit cards.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told TheBlaze in an interview Monday afternoon that the letters were based on the testimony from two FBI whistleblowers, who claim Bank of America had voluntarily provided the FBI with a list of individuals who made transactions in the D.C. area in a three-day time frame around the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol. Massie added that Bank of America also provided the FBI with transactions at gun shops, which were not geofenced to D.C. and weren't limited in time.
"If there’s something that the government is precluded from doing by the Constitution, they can’t create a loophole by having private institutions who aren’t bound by the Constitution do it for them and then share it with them," Massie said.
Massie said he doesn't believe banks should be conducting a "dragnet for the FBI where every customer is a suspect" and he would consider it "malfeasance at the FBI" if the FBI had "winked and nodded" to the banks and said, "Well, we can't ask you to give this to us, but if you voluntarily gave it to us, we can receive it."
If the banks do not comply with the request, the next step would be a subpoena. If the banks do comply with the request, depending on what members find, the committee may call in the banks to talk to them.
Massie also said that new legislation preventing banks from providing customer data to the FBI could be on the table, depending on what the committee finds once the banks produce the requested documents.
In response to the news, banking customers have taken to the internet to call on their peers to opt for cash or cryptocurrency for purchases, so as to keep their financial information away from the government's hands.
"I would use cash for purchases that I don't want the government to know about, because based on information we have from FBI whistleblowers, it seems your financial data is not safe and your privacy is not maintained by the banks with respect to the government," one customer wrote on Reddit.
The committee is requesting a response by June 26. The investigation is sure to be followed closely by those concerned with privacy and banking regulations.