Washington (PPD) — President Donald Trump will not support a a clean reauthorization of government surveillance powers granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The White House told Republican lawmakers there must be significant reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
The president will support only a temporary, 30-day extension of the program intended to give the U.S. Congress time to hammer out reforms.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows intelligence agencies to collect information on foreign targets abroad. It also created the FISC.
Supporters argued there were rigorous safeguards and robust restrictions on FISA. Critics argued the court served only as a rubber stamp. Of 1,080 requests in 2018, only one application was denied.
In December, the secret spy court issued an unprecedented public rebuke of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for its handling of warrant applications used to spy on the Trump campaign.
Judge Rosemary Collyer, the presiding judge of the FISC, was responding to the blistering report issued by the Justice Department (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG). She called the actions of the FBI “antithetical to the heightened duty of candor” owed to the court.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz found seven “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in just the first of four total warrant applications. The latter three applications contained ten additional major inaccuracies.
The DOJ admitted there was “insufficient predication to establish probable cause” to spy on Carter Page, an unsealed court filing revealed in January.
Judge James Boasberg, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), penned and issued the order ruling the warrants were “not valid” on January 7.
However, the White House is suspicious of the court’s ability to reform itself and questions whether it is genuine. Supporters of the president argue that suspicion is warranted.
Judge Boasberg appointed David Kris to review the FBI’s proposed changes to its surveillance application process. He spent the past three years running as a media apologist for the FBI.
Kris, who served as assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s National Security Division, claimed the IG report vindicated the FBI. In 2018, he smeared Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., after the former intelligence committee chairman blew the whistle on FISA abuse.
He frequently pushed the debunked “Russia Collusion” narrative during appearances on Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, in the Lawfare blog, and on Twitter. While defending the FBI, he attacked President Trump and other critics of surveillance abuse.
Kris once posted in a thread on Twitter that the president “should be worried” about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and repeated “the walls are closing in.”
“I suspect that POTUS and his closest advisors are and should be worried that, depending on the evidence, Mueller’s next steps will make it feel like the walls are closing in,” he opined on Twitter.
In truth, the Mueller investigation failed to find evidence of treasonous collusion with Russia, “despite multiple offers.”
According to Senator Rand Paul, R-Kty., the White House will not be relying on Kris to ensure adequate reforms to the abused government surveillance program.
“Just got back from the White House. @realDonaldTrump made it abundantly clear that he will NOT accept a clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act without significant FISA reform! I agree with him!”