The Justice Department is recommending to President Donald Trump that he veto a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform measure after the law was abused by the Obama administration and deep state actors within the FBI to improperly target 2016 campaign adviser Carter Page.
A statement from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd urging the president to reject the reform legislation is the strongest indication yet that the administration does not support them.
The DOJ recommendation comes a day after Trump urged Republicans not to vote for the bill, either.
Specifically, the president urged the GOP to reject the changes at least until it was revealed how the Obama administration weaponized the 1978 FISA law to target Team Trump.
“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!” he wrote on Twitter.
The Hill reported Tuesday:
The Senate approved legislation in a bipartisan vote earlier this month reauthorizing three expired surveillance programs under the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 intelligence reform law.
The initial version of the bill, which passed the House in a 278-136 vote in March, included some changes to the FISA court as part of a deal backed by Attorney General William Barr and supported by some of Trump’s biggest allies, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
In a Wednesday report, The Hill added:
The bill reauthorizes three surveillance programs and makes some changes to the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But the Senate, when it took up the bill earlier this month, added language to create new legal protections for some FISA warrant applications, a change that garnered pushback from the Justice Department.
The Senate included new legal protections for some FISA warrant applications that were supported by civil liberties groups, and the amended version passed easily. However, the Justice Department opposed the changes, saying they would “unacceptably degrade” the government’s ability to conduct legal surveillance.
The president has long insisted that the FISA law was abused by the FBI during and after the Obama administration to obtain a surveillance warrant against Page. The FBI relied on a phony ‘dossier’ bought and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, which the bureau reportedly knew was fake.
To that point, the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, documented in an lengthy reporter released last year that the FBI made serious errors in applying for surveillance warrants against Page, and that the bureau intentionally omitted the fact that the dossier was a political opposition research document commissioned by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
In his statement, Boyd warned that the changes made to the reauthorization will “weaken national security tools while doing nothing to address the abuses identified by the DOJ Inspector General.
“The Department opposes the Senate-passed bill in its current form and also opposes the Lofgren amendment in the House,” he continued, in reference to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).
“Given the cumulative negative effect of these legislative changes on the Department’s ability to identify and track terrorists and spies, the Department must oppose the legislation now under consideration in the House. If passed, the Attorney General would recommend that the President veto the legislation,” he noted further.
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