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Justice Department urges Trump to veto FISA reauthorization bill, president asks GOP to reject it

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The Justice Department is recommending that President Donald Trump reject reauthorization of key Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorities the FBI utilizes hours before the House is scheduled to vote on them, which now puts the legislation in question.

In a statement Wednesday, DOJ Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said that should the reauthorization passed, Attorney General William Barr “would recommend that the President veto the legislation.”

Boyd added that changes to the reauthorization would “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.), who sponsored one of the changes DOJ wants the president to reject.

“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,” Boyd noted further.

On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to urge Republicans to oppose reauthorizing the surveillance authorities until officials got to the bottom of the ‘Russiagate’ scandal.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1265422768625123335

“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!” President Trump wrote.

Trump has long held that deep state figures within the Obama administration – and then his own – abused surveillance powers by fraudulently obtaining surveillance warrants from the secretive FISA court to spy on a member of his 2016 campaign, Carter Page.

While the DOJ inspector general’s office last year released a report noting the FBI made “errors” and “omissions” in requesting and receiving at least four surveillance warrants to spy on Page. It should be noted that the purpose behind the 1978 FISA law, to begin with, was to establish lawful procedures for various government intelligence agencies including the FBI to spy on foreign persons inside the United States or Americans suspected of acting against the U.S. on behalf of a foreign power.

But the FBI’s applications to the FISA court cited information contained in the “Russia dossier,” a phony political opposition research document that was paid for by the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign. What’s more, the FBI did not disclose to the FISA court the nature of the dossier or where it came from — defrauding actions that earned the agency a stern rebuke from the chief judge.

So in reality, James Comey’s FBI never had any legal basis to spy on Page because the bureau had no evidence that he was acting as an agent of the Russian government.

And, of course, the bureau wouldn’t have such evidence if the ‘Russiagate’ probe was manufactured out of thin air using a false narrative.

As for the FISA reauthorizations, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to pull the bill from the floor.

During an interview on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning, McCarthy said there are several reasons why Democrats should hold off on a vote to include new revelations regarding the use of FISA authorities by Obama-era officials to launch Russiagate.

“We need to … get to the bottom of that, and make sure the FISA court is protecting the liberties of Americans before moving another bill forward,” he said.

After the president’s tweet, Republican aides and lawmakers noted it changed the dynamic behind the bill.

One GOP source told Fox News, “The president’s tweet did change everything.”

“Institutionally, the DOJ wants the maximum amount of authority that they can possibly have to do anything,” a congressional aide added. “The president has, for a long time, made a major crusade of his … to stop government spying. … And so those two things are in conflict.”

Jon Dougherty

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