‘We can’t simply reauthorize the system that allowed those lies and omissions to happen…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Only months since a report from the Department of Justice inspector general shockingly identified 17 abuses committed by the FBI in its Russia collusion investigation, GOP legislators are at odds with the Justice Department over the implementation of reforms.
“The status quo is unacceptable,” said Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., currently the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Under the watch of former Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, corrupt, deep-state members of the anti-Trump resistance used loopholes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to authorize spying on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign staff.
Using the false pretenses offered by the Steele Dossier, a debunked series of reports commissioned by the Hillary Clinton campaign, they continued to renew the FISA warrants with information they knew to be incorrect, and later sought to discredit the president-elect by leaking the salacious details of the dossier.
Parts of the FISA law are due to expire on March 15, reported the National Review.
Attorney General William Barr is calling for a clean renewal as he seeks additional time to oversee the reforms, but GOP leaders in Congress are ready for an immediate overhaul to prevent possible recurrence during the upcoming election.
“We cannot reauthorize these counterterrorism provisions without instituting critical safeguards that protect the civil liberties of all Americans,” Collins said. “We must reform our FISA system in order to restore the American people’s confidence in our law enforcement and intelligence communities and ensure what happened to Carter Page and the Trump campaign never happens again.”
House Democrats, meanwhile, sought to use stall tactics to block any possible modifications to their FISA bill prior to the renewal vote.
On Wednesday, top Trump adversary Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., urged his fellow committee chair, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY to postpone a scheduled Judiciary Committee hearing on the reforms.
“Democrats are yet again putting our national security at risk with their stall tactics,” Collins said. “Critical counterterrorism provisions are hanging in the balance because Democrats chose to delay an already ill-timed markup.”
He said the bill being offered by House Democrats failed to address the serious issues in need of reform.
FreedomWorks, an influential conservative grassroots activist group, said it would be better to have no bill at all when weighing the case for FBI surveillance powers over the risk of exploitation.
“Our Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted government intrusion are not a bargaining chip,” said Jason Pye, FreedomWorks’ vice president of legislative affairs. “If Chairman Schiff wants to pull serious reform off the table, then maybe it’s finally time that we let these problematic portions of the Patriot Act expire.”
Despite receiving support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Barr’s wish for an immediate renewal faces slim prospects given the substantial Republican opposition and Democratic foot-dragging.
The rift made for some unlikely alliances among congressional Republicans, with some of Trump’s biggest allies teaming with some of his biggest intra-party critics to reject the pending renewal as-is.
House Freedom Caucus leaders Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Mark Meadows, R-NC, both sounded their opposition.
Comey’s FBI misled the FISA Court 17 times.
We can’t simply reauthorize the system that allowed those lies and omissions to happen.
Now is our chance to fix it.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 26, 2020
Former FBI officials in 2016-17 gravely abused the FISA process and lied to the FISA court 17 times
Now, some members of Congress want to do a clean reauthorization of FISA anyway
Totally unacceptable. Should NEVER happen.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) February 26, 2020
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who frequently pushes back against all manners of executive overreach, welcomed the solidarity of his colleagues after having long advocated for FISA reforms.
“Some are arguing the program needs no reform and that DOJ can put in place internal quality control mechanisms,” Lee said. “That’s not good enough.”
Lee told the National Review that he and other renewal opponents were waiting to see what happened with the House markup before further strategizing.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told Politico on Monday that those caught in the middle were weighing alternative options to make it through the looming showdown.
“A lot will happen between now and March 15,” Kennedy said. “We may do a placeholder and take it past March 15. We’ve got to get this right.”