GOP lawmaker accuses FBI of using FISA to unlawfully monitor him: ‘A threat to the separation of powers’

Republican Rep. Darin LaHood (Ill.) said that he’s reviewed a 2021 report declassified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in December, and he believes he knows the identity of the unnamed Member of Congress the report found was unlawfully searched by the FBI under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA).

“I had the opportunity to review the classified summary of this violation,” LaHood said during Thursday’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s hearing on worldwide threats, “and it is my opinion that the member of Congress that was wrongfully queried multiple times solely by his name was in fact me.”

According to Fox News Digital (FND), the ODNI report stated that the FBI “inappropriately searched the data for an unnamed Member of Congress and local political organizations to determine if they had ties to foreign intelligence.”

LaHood, who leads the working group on Section 702 renewal and oversight for the committee, said in a Wednesday statement that the report “showed a number of ongoing compliance problems and issues, including surveillance of American citizens.”

In one instance, reports FND, the ODNI found the “FBI queried the names of a local political party.” In another, “an [intelligence analyst] conducted approximately [redacted] queries…using only the name of a U.S. congressman.”

The queries, the report stated, were “noncompliant” with the law and “overly broad.”

“I want to make clear the FBI’s inappropriate querying of a duly elected member of Congress is egregious and a violation not only that degrades the trust in FISA, but is viewed as a threat to the separation of powers,” LaHood said during the hearing.

The congressman pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the subject of “credibility.”

(Video: YouTube)

“Director Wray, I wanted to talk to you about FISA,” LaHood began. “As you are aware, Section 702 of FISA is scheduled to expire in 2023. I think you know that the FBI’s credibility with Members of Congress when it comes to executing this law is dubious at best – and I would say in a bipartisan way.”

“Last year as you know, ODNI declassified a FISA Court opinion from here in the District of Columbia by Judge Boasberg,” he told Wray. “As part of his judicial oversight, he criticized extensively the FBI and the FISA process. In that opinion, Judge Boasberg detailed breaches, illegal activity, the abuse of power, and the blatant failures of this process.”

“As you know, in the opinion the judge specifically highlighted dozens of FBI queries that were conducted in support of predicated criminal investigations that accessed Section 702 acquired information. This includes purely domestic activities like health care, fraud, bribery, and public corruption that were outside the norms of Section 702,” LaHood continued. “Director Wray, was that appropriate conduct?”

“I think the judge’s opinion speaks for itself that it was not,” Wray replied.

“I would say that it’s important that the court did not find unlawful purpose or bad faith or anything like that,” he added, “but that doesn’t make it any less unacceptable to me.”

LaHood followed up with a question about consequences.

“Just to follow up on the internal mechanisms that you have gone through, what were the consequences for FBI personnel that repeatedly violated compliance procedures?” he asked the Director.

“I’m not sure that I could cite you, sitting here right now, exactly what happened with each specific employee,” Wray said. “Again, I think it’s important to recognize that the court did not find unlawful purpose or bad faith.”


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