Trump Urges GOP to Reject FISA, Cites Past Abuses

Former President Donald Trump has recently taken to social media to weigh in on the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, also known as FISA. He’s urging Republicans to vote against the reauthorization, citing how the government abused FISA to surveil his 2016 campaign aide.

While Trump’s opposition to the bill is strong, it’s important to consider his history with Section 702 and the provisions in the current reauthorization bill that the House is currently battling over. The former president’s call to reject the surveillance program came in the form of a post on Truth Social, just hours before the House was set to vote on the reauthorization bill.

“KILL FISA, IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS. THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!!!” Trump passionately wrote in his social media post.

When the House Republicans failed to pass the reauthorization bill, many news reports and commentators were quick to point fingers at Trump’s morning advocacy as the cause. However, it’s worth noting that many of the 19 Republicans who voted against the bill had already expressed opposition to the current legislation, regardless of Trump’s influence.

FISA, a set of laws dating back to the 1970s, governs how the intelligence community conducts surveillance for national security purposes. Section 702 of FISA has faced controversy for allowing warrantless surveillance of foreigners, which has led to concerns about the privacy of U.S. citizens. The FBI’s inappropriate querying of the collected communications database has raised further eyebrows, although the bureau claims to have implemented reforms to address these violations.

In 2019, the Department of Justice inspector general found that the FBI, under Title I of FISA, used flawed applications to obtain court orders to surveil Trump’s former foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, during the government’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia. Despite Trump’s outrage over this abuse, it’s worth noting that he was the last president to sign a comprehensive bill to reauthorize Section 702 in 2018.

The failed legislation, known as the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, has been a point of contention in the House, with differing opinions on the bill’s provisions, particularly regarding the warrant requirement for the FBI to search U.S. citizens’ data. There’s a bipartisan push for reforms, and Rep. Darren LaHood, a former federal prosecutor and a member of the Intelligence Committee, has championed the RISA Act as a way to address Section 702’s shortcomings. The act aims to incorporate measures such as appointing a third-party lawyer to review FISA court applications, with the goal of preventing future abuses.

Overall, Trump’s condemnation of FISA at a crucial moment in the House’s decision-making process has sparked debate and highlighted the ongoing divisions within the Republican Party regarding surveillance and national security measures.

Written by Staff Reports

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