Whistleblowers told Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee that Bank of America gave Jan. 6 connected bank records to the FBI without customers’ knowledge or consent.
In their testimony, whistleblowers claimed that the FBI had become “enveloped in politicization” and made several claims of “serious abuses” over an extended period of time.
Among those abuses, whistleblowers said that Bank of America (BOA) had transferred information to the FBI on transactions that took place in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Customers were not informed of this data transfer.
Firearm Owners Targeted
Those who used their Bank of America accounts to purchase a firearm were reportedly bumped to the top of the list handed over to the FBI.
In a report released on May 18, Republicans revealed whistleblower testimony from retired FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst George Hill, who made the allegations.
“The Bank of America, with no directive from the FBI, data-mined its customer base,” Hill testified, saying that this data mining comprised transactions made between Jan. 5, 2021, and Jan. 7, 2021. Specifically, they targeted transactions made in Washington or nearby counties in Maryland and Virginia.
Investigators asked Hill, “It’s anyone who used a Bank of America either debit or credit card to conduct a transaction?”
“Right,” Hill replied. “Any transaction. To buy a hot dog. Doesn’t matter.”
Hill then confirmed that those who had purchased a gun “at some point in time, any time” were bumped to the top of the list given to the FBI.
“This list was provided without any legal process to the FBI?”
“Correct,” Hill replied.
“So my understanding of the [FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide] and amateur assessment based on law is that, you know, if a citizen sees a crime in commission, there’s nothing wrong with injecting that and opening up a case. But, to my knowledge, using a debit card in the District [of Columbia] does not provide adequate predication for the investigation of a crime.”
He alleged that “there was no legal process asking for [the information]” and that Bank of America had acted entirely on its own accord.
Hill also said that the flag for firearm purchases wasn’t limited to purchases made in Washington and the surrounding area but applied to any firearm purchased anywhere at any point in time using a Bank of America account.
Hill’s claims were corroborated by the current Special Agent-in-Charge of the Boston FBI office, Joseph Bonavolonta.
Asked whether he was aware of the information received from Bank of America, Bonavolonta replied in the affirmative.
Bonavolonta testified that the lead was sent to the Boston office without any directive attached.
Bank of America also sent information on purchases related to Inauguration Day hotel stays or plane tickets, Bonavolonta revealed.
He testified, “In the body of the lead, there was information that was provided by Bank of America following a certain number of criteria that, in essence, aggregated a list of individuals that were supposedly living in the New England area who either had potentially made certain credit card purchases for hotel reservations or plane tickets, or potential purchases at gun stores, in and around January 6.”
He revealed that in addition to this Jan. 6 data, the bank also sent the FBI info on travel and lodging fees “planned for the inauguration date, January 20, in that timeframe.”
Bonavolonta said that after thorough analysis, it was clear that the FBI could do nothing with the material, and he said he pursued no further investigations on the basis of the material.
In their concluding commentary on the report, House Republicans called the testimony “highly alarming.”
“The FBI seemingly worked with a major financial institution to receive, without legal process, financial records about Americans … This invasion of the privacy of American citizens is highly concerning.”
The latest allegations of FBI misconduct come amid a push to impeach FBI Director Christopher Wray spearheaded by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over continuing concerns that the FBI has become weaponized for partisan purposes.
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