President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Republicans in Congress to vote against the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the measure that sets up a separate legal means for the federal government to obtain permission to surveil individuals who could be agents of foreign governments.
Notably, FISA warrants were approved by the court to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, and officials have called for reforming the process after the Department of Justice’s inspector general last year found 17 significant errors and omissions during the process. Another report found that the FBI’s violations of FISA rules went beyond the scope of its investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.
“I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” Trump wrote on Tuesday evening. It’s not clear if Trump will veto the measure if it is passed.
I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
An investigation carried out by former special counsel Robert Mueller discovered there was no collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.
Former FBI officials who served under the Obama administration have been facing more flak in recent days after the DOJ moved to drop former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn’s case on May 7, saying the FBI interview wasn’t based on a properly predicated investigation and “seems to have been undertaken only to elicit those very false statements and thereby criminalize Mr. Flynn.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of lying during an FBI interview. In January, he disavowed the plea and asked the court to allow him to withdraw it.
The Senate had approved the legislation in a bipartisan vote in May and reauthorized three expired surveillance programs through the USA Freedom Act, a reform law that was passed in 2015.
The House is slated to vote as soon as Wednesday on the Senate-approved measure, but the congressional body also had agreed to consider an amendment that would place limits on when the FBI can collect Internet search records and browsing history from Americans.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said on Tuesday that won’t support the House’s version of the bill, which is being supported by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). He said that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) noted that the amendment would prevent warrantless collection under the program when the order targets an American only.
“It is now clear that there is no agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to enact true protections for Americans rights against dragnet collection of online activity, which is why I must oppose this amendment, along with the underlying bill, and urge the House to vote on the original Wyden-Daines amendment,” Wyden said in a statement.
Petr Svab contributed to this report.