Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed in a bombshell report Thursday night that Bank of America, the nation's second-largest bank serving more than 60 million people, secretly surveilled customers considered to be persons of interest following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and handed over their private information to federal investigators.
Carlson reported on air Thursday that his team exclusively obtained evidence that "in the days after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Bank of America went through its own customers' financial and transaction records" at the request of federal law enforcement investigators, searching its databases for "people who fit a specific profile."
The profile went as follows, according to Carlson: "1. Customers confirmed as transacting, either through bank account, debit card, or credit card, purchases in Washington, D.C. between 1/5 and 1/6. 2. Purchases made for Hotel/Airbnb RSVPs in DC, VA, and MD after 1/6. 3. Any purchase of weapons or at a weapons-related merchant between 1/7 and their upcoming suspected stay in D.C. area around Inauguration Day. 4. Airline related purchases since 1/6."
During the probe, Bank of America eventually identified 211 customers who met the "thresholds of interest" and proceeded to turn those customers' information over to investigators without their knowledge or consent.
Tucker: Bank of America secretly turned over customer data to FBIyoutu.be
FBI investigators reportedly used the information to interview at least one of the unsuspecting customers, although that person was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
"Imagine if you were that person," said Carlson. "The FBI hauls you in for questioning in a terror investigation, not because you've done anything suspicious, but because you bought plane tickets and visited your country's capital. Now they're sweating you because your bank, which you trust with your most private information, has ratted you out without your knowledge. Because Bank of America did that, you are being treated like a member of Al Qaeda."
When Carlson's team reached out to Bank of America, the bank responded without denying the claim.
"We don't comment on our communications with law enforcement. All banks have responsibilities under federal law to cooperate with law enforcement inquiries in full compliance with the law," the statement reportedly said.
A Bank of America spokesperson gave the same exact response to the Washington Examiner.
Carlson suggested that while Bank of America's actions are certainly troubling, they may also be illegal. A relevant law on the books is 12 U.S.C. 3403, a federal law that protects the confidentiality of financial records. Though the law does appear to allow banks to tip off government authorities to information that "may be relevant to a possible violation of any statute or regulation."
The question becomes, what constitutes information relevant to a crime?
"Does buying a muffin in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 make you a potential domestic extremist?" Carlson asked. "According to Bank of America, yes. Yes, it does."