Trump in his tweet suggested that the law might have been used to spy on his campaign.
“‘House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.’ This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?” the president tweeted.
“House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.” This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2018
But in subsequent tweet, Trump said the House vote “is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land.”
“We need it!”
The House is set to vote Thursday on renewing what’s known as Section 702 of FISA, a law that allows the National Security Agency to collect texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant, even when they communicate with Americans in the U.S.
Some Republicans have speculated that the Obama administration learned of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s calls with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. through Section 702. Flynn resigned after acknowledging he had misled members of the administration about his talks with the ambassador and has pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI as part of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation.
The legislation to be considered by the House includes some small changes meant to appeal to critics of the law. It would require the FBI to obtain a court order before reviewing the content of queries for Americans’ information in the database — though an order would not be required to search the database in the first place — and allow such an order only when investigators want to use the information in a criminal case.
A number of lawmakers do not think that goes far enough, however, and a bipartisan amendment, backed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), imposing restrictions designed to protect Americans who are swept up in government spying on foreigners overseas will also get a vote.
Trump’s White House has been aggressively lobbying for months for a clean, permanent renewal of the 702 authority, which the intelligence community maintains is critical to identifying and disrupting terror plots. Lawmakers have long said that is a nonstarter in the House.
“This amendment would re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11 in order to increase information sharing and improve our national security,” Sanders said. “The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA’s Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives.”
The Amash-backed language would require investigators to obtain a warrant in order to search the 702 database for Americans’ information in criminal cases.
BY JULIA MANCHESTER AND KATIE BO WILLIAMS – 01/11/18 08:04 AM EST
This report was updated at 9:20 a.m.