Home US ‘I’m not a fan of FISA’: Donald Trump slams controversial ‘spy tool’ reauthorization while standing next to President Mike Johnson, who spearheaded passage hours earlier but praises ‘checks and balances’ included in bill to avoid American surveillance

‘I’m not a fan of FISA’: Donald Trump slams controversial ‘spy tool’ reauthorization while standing next to President Mike Johnson, who spearheaded passage hours earlier but praises ‘checks and balances’ included in bill to avoid American surveillance

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Former President Donald Trump said Friday that he is “not a fan” of the controversial spy tool that was reauthorized in the House that morning.

Congress approved a two-year extension of a controversial foreign surveillance program that can help track foreign terrorists after a chaotic week of Republican infighting.

‘I’m not a big fan of FISA. But I told everyone to do whatever they want,” Trump said during a news conference at Mar-a-Lago, alongside President Mike Johnson.

“They put a lot of checks and balances in place and I guess now it’s two years away from expiring in the first part of my administration.”

‘I know [FISA] probably better than anyone,” Trump said. —You know they spied on my campaign. You know that, right? And they did a lot of other bad things.

Trump had deflated FISA’s chances of passing a failed vote on the rule to advance it earlier this week with a scathing post on Truth Social.

Donald Trump said he “supports” Mike Johnson and that he has done a “very good job” as the pair appeared at a joint news conference amid threats of another motion to impeach the president.


But Johnson struck a deal with Trump and his allies to renew it for only two years instead of five, so they could discuss further reforms under a potential Trump administration.

Another part of the law not subject to reauthorization, Title 1, was used to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016 when he was suspected of having communications with the Russians. Trump reauthorized FISA in 2018.

Trump’s comments at Friday’s press conference were more passive opposition.

Section 702 specifically allows the U.S. government to monitor foreign nationals with suspected terrorist ties who are not located on U.S. soil, even if the party on the other end of such communications is a U.S. citizen in the United States.

A hotly contested amendment by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., to require a court order before resuming conversations from those on U.S. soil who communicate with suspected terrorists failed in a rare tie vote, 212-212.

President Mike Johnson cast the final vote that shot down the amendment, a move sure to irritate hardliners.

“Being the vote that repealed the order amendment certainly brought other members to my side,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Johnson, whom she introduced a motion to expel from the chair.

‘This is a sad day for America. The president does not always vote in the House, but today he was the one who broke the tie. He voted against the court orders,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., wrote in X.

An amendment by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, that would require the FBI to provide quarterly reports on how many Americans had been questioned under 702 was passed and added to the bill.

President Mike Johnson and Representative Chip Roy are introducing the new bill in Congress, the SAVE Act.

President Mike Johnson and Representative Chip Roy are introducing the new bill in Congress, the SAVE Act.

The national security surveillance bill includes new barriers aimed at oversight and transparency, after a report found that intelligence agents had improperly questioned Americans 278,000 times under the law.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a May 2023 report detailing how the FBI improperly used Section 702 to ‘query’ (or search for) names of people suspected of being on Capitol grounds during 9/6. January. 2021 riots, Black Lives Matters protesters, crime victims and their families, and donors to a Congressional campaign.

FISA will expire on April 19, after which “America will go blind,” Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner warned reporters.

Before the vote, Turner noted that FISA could have been used to spy on Al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attack.

“The perpetrators of 9/11 were in the United States and were communicating with Al Qaeda,” he said on the House floor.

‘At that time, we made a serious mistake and we were not spying on Al Qaeda and we did not see who United were communicating with in the United States. We changed that and started strengthening Al Qaeda and we could see the extent to which they were recruiting people in the United States to harm us.’

Without Section 702, intelligence agents would not be able to obtain a complete picture of the conversations of suspected terrorists abroad communicating with people on American soil.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, lashed out at the right-wing House Freedom Caucus and its allies who want the FBI to have to obtain a court order to resume those talks, which critics say would bog down the process of fighting terrorism.

‘Let’s be clear. His position is aligned (and co-sponsored) with that of the progressive group: Jerry Nadler, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal; The list goes on and on. “It is the far-left socialists who want this same policy,” he stated.

‘What progressives want to do is much more than just fix the program: they want to end it entirely. I’m not surprised that Rashida Tlaib wants to make it easier for terrorists to kill Americans, but I am VERY surprised that many Republicans agree with her.’

Crenshaw’s amendment to allow international drug traffickers to be interrogated under Section 702 in addition to terrorists was adopted into the bill.

Crenshaw compared it to a wiretap in a criminal investigation. Police do not need to obtain a warrant to investigate the conversations of suspects and the people they speak to. He noted that intelligence agents need to trace potential terrorists’ conversations with those in the United States in the early stages, potentially before a judge approves a “probable cause” warrant.

‘This requirement – although perhaps well-intentioned – would actually destroy our ability to detect domestic terrorist attacks (or drug trafficking or espionage), because it prevents our investigators from moving beyond step 1 of the investigation process, which is simply connecting the dots with data that we already have legally.’

Biggs, who sponsored the warrant requirement, responded: “You have aligned yourself with the DC Cartel that insists on spying on Americans and violating the Bill of Rights.”

Crenshaw claimed the FBI ‘HATES’ the bill’s new reforms. ‘It seriously degrades your access to the FISA database. Imposes criminal sanctions for abusing it. It makes it clear that no one can be searched for any reason, but only in the case of investigations related to foreign intelligence, weapons of mass destruction or terrorism.

While many of the uses of Section 702 remain classified, intelligence officials leaked late last year that they had used the controversial tool to thwart arms sales to Iran.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies had used information gathered by monitoring the electronic communications of foreign weapons manufacturers and stopping several shipments of advanced weapons to Iran.

On Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a dire warning to members of Congress about what could happen if FISA expires. “It will greatly increase the risk of overlooking crucial information during a time of growing national security threats on multiple fronts,” Wray said.

‘If we are blind Looking at who our adversaries are, who they’re working with, I can tell you that that will definitely have implications for our ability to protect the American people, because I can assure you that none of our adversaries are tying their hands. So now is not the time to hang up the gloves.’

The ODNI report states that 13 people connected to January 6 were inappropriately questioned to determine if they had “foreign ties.”

Additionally, the database was searched for more than 130 individuals who were linked to social unrest and riots carried out by Black Lives Matter activists following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

The FISA search was conducted to obtain information about whether they were connected to any counterterrorism plots, which the Justice Department wrote in the report as “reasonable,” but the high level of redaction does not allow for a fuller explanation.

There was also a “batch investigation” of more than 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign, who were not named.

The FBI analyst who conducted the search said the campaign was a possible target of foreign influence.

However, the Justice Department said only “eight identifiers” were used in the search in total that “had sufficient ties to foreign influence activities to meet the query standard.”

Additionally, FBI FISA searches were conducted on crime victims, including “individuals listed in police homicide reports, including victims, next of kin, witnesses, and suspects.”

The Justice Department said these inquiries were inappropriate because there was “no reasonable basis” to expect that individuals would be linked to foreign intelligence through such searches.

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